Relationships

Pua Magasiva's widow speaks out about the domestic violence she suffered at his hands

''I am also speaking for my daughter, Laylah, who has been a witness to my husband's ongoing violence - I need to have a voice for her to show her that this is not OK.''

Pua Magasiva's widow has broken her silence to speak out about the domestic violence she suffered at the hands of the late TV actor.
Up until now Lizz Magasiva (nee Sadler) has been bound by a court suppression order, which lifted at 12am today.
But even before that, the 33-year-old teacher and mother of one said she had been asked by her husband to hide the truth to protect his reputation; the Shortland Street, Power Rangers and Sione's Wedding star had been worried that the truth getting out would ruin his career.
Pua Magasiva died suddenly on May 11 at a hotel in Wellington. He had been staying there with wife Lizz; his death followed a night out drinking in bars with friends.
In a letter to the court after her husband's death asking for his name suppression (that had been granted at a court appearance two weeks before his death) to be discontinued, she wrote, "In the past you have received letters from me which are carefully constructed under the supervision of my husband.
"I love my husband and I would do anything for him, which included not signing a statement to the police ... and not being truthful so that I may always protect him."
She told the court she did not want his name suppression to continue because it would carry on a cycle of silence around an issue that needed to be talked about.
"I am also speaking for my daughter, Laylah, who lived with us full time and has been a witness to my husband's ongoing violence - I need to have a voice for her to show her that this is not OK.
"This is my pain, this is my truth and I need to have the ability to speak freely in order to get through this. I cannot do this in silence. I ask please that the silence end."
Six days ago Lizz posted a quote by Mark Twain on her Instagram page that gave a hint of what was to come.
"The truth hurts, but silence kills," it read.

Since Lizz's story broke this morning many have flocked to her Instagram page to write messages of support.
"You have so much courage and strength. You are amazing for speaking out. I cant imagine what you have gone thru this past year. Thank u for sharing and i hope that by you doing this, it helps other woman who also feel they have no voice . Enjoy Christmas with your daughter and family," wrote one.
Another said simply, "No women should go through that."
Some shared their own stories: "been thru it too hun, including the victim blaming and abuse from his family, even on the same day i came out of hospital. You'll gt thru."

Scrolling through Lizz's Instagram feed, you'd have the impression that she and Pua had shared an idyllic marriage.
But behind the sunny front lurked darkness, violence and excessive drinking.
Lizz and Pua had met on Instagram in October 2016 and were married 18 months later in May 2018.
On their wedding day they pledged to "share everything", "treasure" and "encourage" one another, and "be open with you and true to you for eternity".
Pua told a reporter who attended their wedding, "There's a line in that song [Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now] that goes, 'Let them say we're crazy. I don't care about that.' It's a close representation of our relationship because we're really passionate, full-on and a little psycho with each other."
Each had a young daughter from a previous relationship, and Lizz's daughter Laylah lived with the couple full-time.
According to letters to the court that have been allowed to be shared by media with the lifting of the suppression order, Lizz was subjected to regular beatings by Pua.
On the night of his May 11 death, he had again attacked her. She needed hospital treatment for her injuries.
On the night Pua died, Lizz said his anger and drinking had returned.
"It ended with me in hospital and him taking his life," she wrote in a letter to the court. "The trauma from losing my husband is going to be with me for the rest of my life.
"I think domestic violence is something people are afraid to talk about, certainly I was as I hid this our whole relationship - endless excuses and lies has taken a toll on my mental wellbeing.
"Only when a stranger found me after the assault last year did I go to the police."
Lizz Magasiva said she blamed herself because "he blamed me".
"I did everything in my power to protect and lie for him but now I have a chance to be heard and speak my truth."

In a separate letter to the court Lizz's father Ronald Sadler said "there had been many instances of violence" during her daughter's relationship with the former TV star.
"All a father ever wants for a daughter is happiness and fulfilment and in Pua I thought Elizabeth had found that person.
"Unfortunately the dark side had been covered up by my daughter and when I heard about the serious assault in June last year, I was shocked and my immediate feelings were for my daughter's safety and wellbeing."
Sadler said his daughter assured him Magasiva was going through counselling.
"But I now realise that she was in a 'catch 22' situation. She was putting on a brave face on an otherwise violent and desperate situation.
"There had been many instances of violence. Times when Pua had smashed her phones, punched holes in the walls and doors and times where he used horrific violence such as the incident in June 2018 when he had tried to strangle Elizabeth."

In many of the incidents, Sadler said, alcohol was involved.
"One time when he lost his licence for drink driving in 2017, he had a fit of rage and when Elizabeth tried to stop him driving his motorcycle, he proceeded by running over her foot and burning her leg and foot. A neighbour saw what had happened and rang the police."
He said the seriousness of the situation came to a head for him when his granddaughter Laylah showed him what Pua had done to Mummy.
"Laylah proceeded to demonstrate and tell me that Pua had placed his hands around mummy's neck indicating that he had tried to strangle her.
"When challenged, it was evident that Elizabeth was putting a brave face on the situation and I said to my wife that nothing good would come out of this and that I was concerned for her safety.
"I now know that Laylah had witnessed the domestic violence first hand on several occasions."
Over the years it was incredibly hard as a father to watch his daughter suffer at the hands of Magasiva's violence, he wrote.
"Each time we saw holes in the walls around her house and the bruises she couldn't hide, Elizabeth would assure us that he was sorry and it wouldn't happen again.
"We tried to intervene but Elizabeth would not have it and we were fearful that Pua may cut her off from seeing her family and we couldn't risk that – especially with our granddaughter Laylah."
There wasn't a day that went by where he didn't wish he could have done more but "we were just there to help her survive this".

Where to get help