REPOROA. WAIKATO. 30th of November 1998. Highschool sweethearts and husband and wife, Henk and Beverly Bouma are alone in their farmhouse property located on Plateau Road in Reporoa, a small rural community 40km outside of Rotorua. The couple’s three children were not home, their son 22-year-old Russell was working on another farm; their two daughters, 17-year-old Sandra and 15-year-old Cherie were away for school in Hamilton.
Henk and Beverly Bouma are awoken to four men wearing ski masks and gloves, one pointing a .22 rifle at them.
Visit www.truecrimenz.com for additional information on this case. Including a transcript of this episode, with supporting pictures, sources, and credits.
Hosted by Jessica Rust
Written and edited by Sirius Rust
Music sourced from:
Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
“Bump in the Night”, “Day of Chaos”, “Lithium”, “Mirage”, “Past the Edge”, “Rite of Passage”, “Sad Trio”, “Unseen Horrors”
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0
The podcast version is the intended way to consume this story but I make a transcript available for those that would rather read instead. This can be found below.
30th of November 1998. Highschool sweethearts and husband and wife, Henk and Beverly Bouma are alone in their farmhouse property located on Plateau Road in Reporoa, a small rural community 40km outside of Rotorua. The couple’s three children were not home, their son 22-year-old Russell was working on another farm; their two daughters, 17-year-old Sandra and 15-year-old Cherie were away for school in Hamilton.
10.30pm. Henk and Beverly Bouma are awoken to four men wearing ski masks and gloves, one pointing a .22 rifle at them. The offenders ransacked the property, one of the intruders uncovered Henk’s .22 rifle; two offenders were now armed with rifles. The offenders found credit cards and demanded the pincodes. After the intruders obtained the codes, two of the offenders left the property in Henk’s 1984 gold Ford Laser with the intention of travelling 40km south to Taupo to withdraw cash from the credit cards.
While waiting for the return of the other two men, the two remaining armed offenders stood guard. Both Henk and Beverly lay on their bedroom floor bound and gagged. One of the men began beating Henk.
During this time, the other intruder took Beverly and shuffled her into the next room; Beverly’s daughters room. The man stripped Beverly naked. While on her knees, the man pointed Beverly’s husbands .22 rifle into her collarbone. The gunman asked the 45-year-old mother of three to perform fellatio on him. When Beverly refused, the gunman pulled the trigger. The bullet travelled through Beverly’s heart, lungs and kidneys before exiting through her back — Beverly Bouma died on the bedroom floor.
Hours pass. In the early morning hours of the next day, the 1st of December 1998, two men return from Taupo — having withdrawn $2800 from three different ATMs. The four offenders have a quick conference about what to do with the surviving victim. The group discussed putting Henk into the boot of the Ford Laser and pushing it into the Waikato River. Although, ultimately the four armed offenders left Henk with his life and disappeared into the night in the Bouma’s gold Ford Laser.
Shortly after, Henk was able to free himself from his bindings. He ran out the front door and ran more than a kilometre to the nearest neighbouring property. The occupants, the Lees were awoken in the early hours of that December morning to Henk climbing through their bedroom window, desperately appealing “I think they have gone, I think they’ve gone. I need help. I think Bev is dead.”
The investigation into the murder of Beverly Bouma was headed up by Dectective Inspector Graham Bell. After an extensive search of the crime scene and interviewing the survivor about the ordeal; police were not any closer to finding the intruders.
Recovered CCTV footage showed that the Laser was last seen at the Taupo’s National Bank ATM at 11.34pm withdrawing money, then 8 minutes later at a Mobil Service Station, before a final stop 48 minutes later at a Caltex. Three days later, as public pressure mounted Graham released a security photograph showing a man wearing Henk’s hat exiting the Bouma’s gold Ford Laser.
Information began flooding in, including a tip from Reporoa Community Constable John Ballard. He provided information that police should look into 24-year-old David Poumako, known more commonly by his nickname ‘Blue’. John had seen an extremely intoxicated Blue at a hot pool near Reporoa known as Kerosene Creek with three other companions the day before the murder.
Blue was already known to police. David Poumako’s dealing with police began at 11 when he intimidated a teacher with a knife cutting her hand. It was during this time that David began sneaking out of the family home at night to go drinking. By the time David was 13, he was an alcoholic and was living in a Hamilton boys’ home.
As David grew, so did his police record. David’s money making ventures began with stealing cars but quickly transitioned into ‘ghosting’; which is the process of ‘ripping off’ cannabis grows owned by others, and the crime known colloquially as ‘angry knifing’, butchering stolen livestock. ‘Old Blue boy’ was described by local policeman Sergeant Chris McLeod as a “a petty criminal yet someone who had leadership qualities. He liked to have his followers around him. He surrounded himself with young guys who were impressionable. He liked to be the top dog.”
Soon after, a tip came in from a police informant. The informant told Sergeant Chris McLeod that 23-year-old Dillon Hitaua from the nearby village of Kaingaroa was attempting to secure a firearm in the days leading up to the murder. Furthermore, since the crime Dillon was asking around the village about getting a full facial tattoo in an attempt to change his appearance.
When police visited Dillon’s property in Kaingaroa they found his partner Leigh Tamati in a state described as “distraught as hell”. Chris Mcleod described the experience to the Sunday Star-Times in 2009, “She just burst into tears, said ‘I hate him. Why did he tell me this?’ All of a sudden out it came. It was one of the big parts of the puzzle”.
Leigh confessed what she knew, she told police that the day after the killing Dillon arrived home with $200 for bills. The couple then took their children to The Warehouse to buy new shoes. It was during this time that Dillon admitted his involvement in the murder, asking his partner, “Haven’t you read the papers? Didn’t you hear of the woman who was shot in Reporoa?”.
These questions triggered Leigh’s ‘distraught as hell’ state, she described the moment, “I went into a panicky state when he said where he got the money from. I looked towards my children, who were so excited to have new shoes and posters. I asked him, ‘Did you shoot her?’ and he said ‘No.’ I asked, ‘Don’t you feel as guilty?’ and he said, ‘Yeah.’ He cried and cried.”
REVISITING 30TH OF NOVEMBER 1998
From here the police put together the rest of the puzzle. Methodically the police pieced together the narrative, including uncovering the identity of the final two suspects.
Brothers, Luke and Mark Reihana were aged 17 and 16 respectively when they became involved with the older David ‘Blue’ Poumako and Dillon Hitaua. In the days leading up to the murder of Beverly Bouma, the foursome were binging on the spoils of their recent liquor store robbery.
On the 29th of November 1998, the foursome travelled to the hot pool Kerosene Creek. In a ‘stoned’ and ‘drunk’ state the group made a nuisance of themselves they drew the attention of the local constabulary.
By 10pm on the 30th of November 1998, the cash and liquor were running low. A plan was hatched to stock up; rob a house, steal any credit cards and valuables. A house was chosen at random; the Bouma property. The four men waited for the occupants to languish and retire to the bedroom.
10.30pm. The masked men drunkenly staggered down the driveway. Security was relaxed in the rural community. Blue, Dillon, Luke and Mark all entered the farmhouse. Dillon Hitaua woke Beverly and Henk Bouma at gunpoint.
The foursome ransacked the property, credit cards and valuables were stolen. After obtaining the pin numbers from the Boumas, two of the offenders travelled south to withdraw money from the nearest ATMs.
It was during this time, Blue took Beverly into a side bedroom, the outcome of these actions resulted in murder. According to the three other offenders, rape and murder were at no time part of the plan.
When the two offenders returned from Taupo, the four intruders took whatever valuables they could fit in the Bouma’s Ford Laser and exited the scene. The offenders divided up the take, before the foursome went their separate ways. The Bouma’s car was ditched near the offenders home of Kaingaroa.
Five days later, David ‘Blue’ Poumako, Dillon Hitaua, Luke Reihana and Mark Reihana were all charged in relation to the murder of Beverly Bouma on the 30th of November 1998. All four men plead not guilty.
As the lengthy court process got underway, a campaign for harsher punishments for offences taking place in one’s home began to get some steam. The campaign dubbed Zero Tolerance was headed up by Reporoa church leader Reverend John Turton; supported by Henk Bouma. Together they gained the support of the then Justice Minister Tony Ryall, an amendment to the Crimes Act began to be drafted.
The Crimes (Home Invasion) Amendment Act became law in July of 1999. This new law meant that those convicted of a crime inside one’s home could be sentenced to an additional three to five years in prison.
In October of 1999, the trial of David ‘Blue’ Poumako commenced. Soon after the trial began, David Poumako changed his plea to guilty. One week later, the three remaining defendants plead guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter and aggravated robbery.
One month later in November of 1999, all four men appeared in court for sentencing. Controversially the men were sentenced under the new home invasion legislation even though the crime occured seven months prior to the amendment coming into law.
16-year-old Luke and 17-year-old Mark Reihana received an 8-year sentence for the manslaughter of Beverly Bouma and seven years for the robbery. Dillon Hitaua received 10 years for his part in the manslaughter and 8 years for aggravated robbery. All sentences were to be served concurrently.
David ‘Blue’ Poumako was sentenced to life for the murder of Beverly Bouma plus an addiational 9 and half years for his part in the armed robbery with a minimum non-parole period of 13 years.
On the 6th of July 2001, the NZ Herald reported that David ‘Blue’ Poumako died in prison at 27-years-old. David was reportedly in the prison gym playing chess with a fellow inmate when he suffered a fatal heart attack; years of hard living evidently caught up with him.
‘Old Blue Boy’s’ death was celebrated by many including Henk Bouma who said this was karmic justice, “What goes around comes around. I have always been a believer in that. I am just so relieved that we don’t have to go through the parole process… We don’t have to face him again… My children still don’t have a mother.”
Both Luke and Mark Reihana were released from prison in February of 2005, having served 6 years for their crimes. A NZ Herald follow up in 2018 found that Luke Reihana was living and working somewhere in the area around Reporoa. Mark Reihana’s fate is more mysterious, his relatives said he is often ‘around’ but no one really knew where he lived.
Dillon Hitaua was released from prison in 2005. Upon release, Dillon was still involved with his longtime partner and mother of his now teenage children, Leigh Tamati.
Now a member of the Black Power gang, even sporting a Black Power fist tattooed on his back. Dillon was heavily involved with gang activity upon release. To make money, He held a job as a possum hunter — although, Dillon was reportedly frustrated by the meagre income of the profession.
In 2008, Dillon Hitaua was convicted of domestic assault of his partner, Leigh Tamati. Local policeman Sergeant Chris McLeod told the Sunday Star Times that their relationship had always been violent, “it wasn’t uncommon for him to wander into her place whenever he felt like it, grab a feed out of the fridge, say hello to the kids, then drink whatever piss was there and shoot through. People weren’t big on protection orders in those days, and he was dominating her.”
In early 2009, the couple moved into Dillon’s parent’s old home in the Matahi Valley. According to the couple’s families, this was an attempt for Dillon to distance himself from gang life, to focus on family and to change his ways.
Sometime in August of 2009, during an early morning domestic dispute over lost keys Leigh Tamati stabbed Dillon in the thigh with a kitchen knife. Neighbours helped Leigh transport Dillon to a car and drove him to the nearest ambulance 12km away. The knife had pierced two arteries, resulting in massive blood loss. Dillon Hitaua died later that night in Tauranga Hospital.
One of Dillon’s cousins who wanted to remain anonymous lamented his death to the Sunday Star Times and gave some insight into the volatile relationship, “It’s a tragedy what happened to my cousin. He was trying his hardest to get his life back, and he was getting it together. But hey, when you have a partner calling you a murderer, shit happens. It seems all the name-calling turned around, and made a killer out of her. It’s really sad, as they loved each other but couldn’t live together.”
Leigh Tamati was charged with murder, but later pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter as she never intended to kill; Leigh said her intentions were only to scare Dillon into leaving the house. Leigh Tamati was sentenced to two years imprisonment; she received a two year discount off her sentence for entering an early guilty plea.
The survivor of this brutal, random crime Henk Bouma decided not to return to the scene of the murder; he told NZ Woman’s Weekly in 1999, “I asked the girls if they would go back but can I expect Sandra to go back and sleep in her room, where it happened? I don’t want to put that on them.”
Henk moved to somewhere in the Waikato and put his Plateau Road dairy farm up for sale. Hoping to move on with his life, “We have to look forward. That’s what Bev would want… If we fell apart, we would be letting her down. She would have been strong and she wouldn’t want us to be unhappy and let it affect the rest of our lives. She’d come back to haunt us, otherwise.”
As a further tragic epilogue, Henk Bouma died from liver cancer in 2002; leaving his three children orphaned — his youngest daughter Cherie was only 18 at the time.
Now retired Detective Inspector Graham Bell believes the events of the 30th of November 1998 played a role in Henk’s death, “People I know who have died of cancer have often been worrying about things, it must be an aggravating factor, that’s just home-spun philosophy, but you’ve got to think it has an impact on people.”
Beverly’s younger sister Karyn believed the randomness of the crime is the reason it upset the country to such a degree, a wake up call to NZ that any innocent person could be murdered in their own home with little warning, “It’s affected a nation, not just one family… People didn’t have to know Bev — they just knew it could have happened to them… She was just a normal person minding her own business. She wouldn’t hurt a fly — that’s why it makes it so hard to accept the way she died… She meant the world to us. There wouldn’t be a day goes by when we don’t think about her. I might be winding up the electric fence or just being outside and I think about what she should be doing. It’s so unfair.”
Graham Bell reflected on the crime to the NZ Herald in 2018. He believes the crime is still remembered today because it struck fear into the heart of people’s right to feel safe in their home, concluding “The main reason it hit such a nerve, here were two innocent, normal, family people in their own home, in their own beds, in the middle of the night, attacked for no reason other than a bit of drunken greed… It’s a good indicator of how criminals can act without any thought but for themselves, not a moment’s consideration given to any consequences for them or their victims, just acting on a drunken impulse. It’s hard even now for me, let alone the general public, to come to grips with how someone can do that. It just shocked and horrified the whole country and I’m not surprised.”
Youtube, Operation Bouma | Beverly Bouma’s Murder, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qtw2xsxWRNo
NZ Herald, Murderer’s death a relief for victim’s family and community, https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=198644
NZ Herald, Killer of Beverly Bouma dies in prison, https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=198640
Stuff.co.nz, Woman gets 2 years for stabbing Bouma killer, http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/3004255/Woman-gets-2-years-for-stabbing-Bouma-killer
Press Reader, How a killer became a victim, https://www.pressreader.com/new-zealand/sunday-star-times/20090913/281612416438124
Stuff.co.nz, Brutal killer stabbed to death, http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/2849523/Brutal-killer-stabbed-to-death
NZ Herald, Killer’s shocking past revealed, https://www.nzherald.co.nz/rotorua-daily-post/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503438&objectid=10982569
NZ Herald, Beverly Bouma’s murder: The case that angered a nation and created history, https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12167136
Crime.co.nz, The Reporoa Killing, http://www.crime.co.nz/c-files.aspx?ID=459
John Lockyer, NZ Detectives, 2010