'I want him out': The father building a relationship with his daughter's killer

A decade has passed since Waikato mum Helen Meads was murdered by her husband, and her father has now taken the brave step to build a relationship with her killer. 

"We need fathers to be fathers and he can't be a father inside," David White told The AM Show on Friday, reflecting on the death of his daughter. 

"We need him back because, the trouble with New Zealand at the moment, is that something happens, and that's it for life. We have to change this attitude."

Helen was 42 when she was murdered in 2009 by her husband Greg Meads, 54 at the time, in a horse stables on the couple's Matamata property. Police said he used a shotgun to kill his wife following a domestic dispute. 

The couple had been married for 10 years, but had split up shortly before Helen's death. She had begun moving out of the couple's home after suffering violence at his hands for several years.

Caught in the middle of it all were Helen's two daughters, Kimberley, who was 17 at the time, from a previous relationship, and Samantha, who was only nine. 

"Poor old Kimberley, we packed her up a couple of months after and sent her down to Massey University to do her education there to become a teacher," Mr White recalled. 

"It was really tough on her because she hardly had time to get her feet on the ground, and suddenly she was off to Massey, and I was miles away."

Samantha is now 18 and is set to study early education, he said. 

She has been living with Mr White and his wife Pamela since Helen's death. 

Confronting a killer

Despite Greg Meads saying in 2009 that he was "not a killer", Mr White told The AM Show he's moved on from the anger he felt towards him, and wants to build a relationship. 

"The first time I saw him in prison, a lot of fathers would want to go and give him a smacking. I just walked up and shook his hand and said, 'Thank you for coming and talking to me'," Mr White said. 

"We had to get a dialogue going between us, not for Greg and myself, but because of the children involved."

Greg was found guilty of murdering his wife in 2009 and was sentenced to life with a minimum non-parole period of 11 years, but he's due for parole in three years' time. 

Asked how he felt about that and whether he'd like to see Greg out of prison, Mr White admitted that he would like to see him free. 

"To be honest, I want him out. We need fathers to be fathers and he can't be a father inside.

"I visit a lot of prisons, and one of the things I hear most regularly; the guys that are in there are cut off from being the father they want to be.

Helen Meads was murdered by her husband in 2009.
Helen Meads was murdered by her husband in 2009. Photo credit: White Ribbon

"They've gone in for all sorts of reasons, but there is a difference in understanding and we need to change that."

Mr White said the family needs Greg back in their lives because, "the trouble with New Zealand at the moment is that something happens, and that's it for life. We have to change this attitude".

He's planning to visit 71 electorates in 71 days, giving 120 presentations - one for each Member of Parliament, as part of his Harm Ends Futures Begin tour. 

"Some of the best advocates that I work with are guys that have been in prison and have come out and have learnt [from their mistakes]," Mr White told The AM Show. 

Asked if Greg had changed while in prison, Mr White said, "Yes, he has."

"He is a far more humble and understanding person. I think there are a lot of things that have happened to him in his own life; both his parents have died while he's in prison.

"I think as a society we are far too intolerant. People do something wrong and that's it for life.

"It's people like me that have been a victim like that - we have to get through the pain of what happened to us - and if we don't, we pass that on to the children."

He said as a grandfather, it's his responsibility to repair his damaged family and show them that people can change and learn from their mistakes. 

"If there's nothing else I can do... I've got to rebuild the family and get it to a point where everyone is safe and secure.

"Somebody has to stand up; somebody has to stop this whole ripple effect going on."

Mr White said while he hadn't forgiven Greg for murdering his daughter, he said the fact he told him he'd never forgive himself for killing her is "enough to work with". 

"I understand better what led to Helen's death."

Asked what he would require from Greg if he gets out of prison, he said: "Be a father. Just be a father."

Mr White is an ambassador for the White Ribbon Trust, a movement that aims to end men's violence towards women.

He published a book in 2012 called Helen: The Helen Meads Tragedy.