LIFE in Tauranga is slow. For a city of 300,000 people, it moves at the pace of a country town. People are friendly and accommodating and the weather is kind. Nestled on the coast of the Bay of Plenty in the North Island, Tauranga has become a magnet for New Zealand's fifty-somethings looking for a quiet retirement. Its suburbs of sprawling houses and manicured lawns stretch back from the long white beaches into the hinterland, and the orchards are heavy with kiwi fruit. Tourism sustains the town during summer, but the well-heeled retirees ensure an economic buffer during the winter. It was to Tauranga six months ago that disgraced government lawyer Warwick Reid came to begin a new life with his family, after spending almost five years in prison for accepting bribes to pervert the course of justice in Hong Kong. The Sunday Morning Post found him at his new residence, only a few streets away from the family's old home, which they were forced to quit at the end of April as part of a financial settlement with the Hong Kong Government. Reid, 48, did not want to be interviewed. The last thing he wanted, he said, was more media coverage, but he consented to answer a few questions. 'I think I can finally say that now everything has been resolved in accordance with the wishes of the Hong Kong Government,' he said. 'All the properties [acquired with bribe money] have been sold or are being sold. We have moved out of the house, given the keys to the Hong Kong Government and acquired another with money held in trust for my wife and family,' he said. Under a settlement struck with the territory Government to recover those assets, Reid's properties in New Zealand - a three-bedroom house and two kiwi fruit orchards - were to be sold, and the proceeds returned to the territory's coffers. One of the orchards was sold several years ago, while he was in jail, and as of last week, a sale agreement was being completed on the five hectare second orchard and two offers were being considered for the house. Estate agents acting for the Hong Kong Government in Tauranga said the house was expected to fetch between NZ$210,000 to NZ$240,000 (HK$1.09 million to HK$1.24 million), while solicitors acting for the Government said the orchard was being sold for between NZ$250,000 to $300,000 - comfortably above initial expectations. 'As far as the public interest is concerned, everything has now been resolved. The properties are being sold and there is nothing more anyone needs to know,' said Reid. As for Reid himself, the past six months have been a period for putting together the pieces of his shattered life: restoring ties with his wife Judith and their three children, Sarah, Jeremy and Cassie - and also looking for work. 'I have travelled in Asia several times since my release and was offered work as a consultant, but I did not pursue it,' he said. 'It would have meant spending a large amount of time travelling and being away from my family, or moving them to another country. They have settled into Tauranga very happily and I respect their wishes to stay here. 'It was difficult at the start, but I am becoming more and more comfortable here,' he said. He has also been repairing a bitter and highly-public rift with his brother, Michael, whom he still believes was responsible for telling the authorities about his crimes. At the time of his arrest and trial, Reid had publicly threatened to kill his brother - a Tauranga lawyer - for tipping off the Independent Commission Against Corruption about his activities. Those angry words had an impact. Michael apparently feared his brother would actually play Cain to his Abel. As Reid's release from prison drew close and preparations were made to fly him to New Zealand, Michael checked himself into a local psychiatric ward, apparently close to a nervous breakdown. He has since recovered, but refused to talk to the Sunday Morning Post about his brother. But as far as the reformed Reid was concerned, the past has been forgiven. 'I would say now my relationship with my brother is back to about the same level it was before this whole affair blew up, which is close,' he said. Did that mean he had changed his opinion about Michael's involvement in his arrest? Reid replied: 'I have always believed this to be the case, but there is no point in clinging to the past. 'I have not discussed this with him and at this stage I don't intend to. It's time to get on with what's happening in the present.' Certainly, there is much history to put behind him. Reid was acting Director of Public Prosecutions and head of the Legal Department's Commercial Crimes Unit when he was arrested in 1989 on charges that he had accepted $12.4 million in bribes over three years to pervert the course of justice. In an episode worthy of an Ian Fleming novel, Reid subsequently fled the territory and spent several months on the run in Macau, China and the Philippines, locking into a triad network to avoid capture and living in 'safe-houses' with fellow fugitives and figures in organised crime. When the law finally caught up with him, Reid elected to become a Crown witness, giving evidence against his former conspirators, including Oscar Lai Ka-to and Eddie Soh Chee-kong, in an attempt to reduce his own sentence. Reid was jailed for eight years, but released in a little less than five. His release was as dramatic as anything that had gone before. A target of death threats by those who had sheltered him, Hong Kong watched as he was whisked from prison under armed guard to a waiting army Blackhawk helicopter which flew him to Kai Tak and immediate deportation to New Zealand. Since that first day of freedom in New Zealand in early December, Reid has successfully kept out of the public eye. 'There's no doubt he has kept a very low profile since he returned here,' said Tom Scott, chief reporter on the Bay of Plenty Times newspaper. 'I wouldn't say he's been hiding, but certainly we hear very little about him. We know he has moved, but we don't know where,' he said. Neighbours, too, have been kept at arm's length. 'They seemed like a nice family, but although I knew Judith [his wife] well I really didn't get to know Warwick at all,' one said. Reid's life since returning to New Zealand appears to have been a model of restraint and suburban normality. He has developed a passion for gardening and much of his social life revolves around outings to the local Baptist church on Sunday. The former high-flying lawyer, it seemed, has found God. The conversion to Christianity came on his return to New Zealand. 'I'm not a born-again Christian. I'm not quite sure what that is, but I am a Christian and the church has helped me,' Reid said. Through his church contacts he landed his first job three weeks ago - working for a Tauranga-based Asian furniture importer. 'I had always toyed with the idea about exporting furniture from Hong Kong to New Zealand, but had never got around to it,' he said. 'Now I'm learning all there is to know about the business, but I really don't know where I will end up career-wise.' His biggest concern about returning to Tauranga had not been whether he would be tracked down by former accomplices, but if he would be accepted into a close-knit community, he said. 'I haven't been threatened by anyone since I arrived. There's been no one lurking in the garden and I'm not hiding. 'But I was very worried about the reception I would receive. In all honesty I can say that people here have treated me very well. It has been a wonderful sort of reception. 'I'm sure there have been a number of lawyers released from prison for stealing other people's money who have had a much tougher reception than me. I think it's because I didn't steal any of their money or rape or kill anyone. 'I think they think I deserve another chance. It is very refreshing that people would be prepared to do that. I don't think that would happen in Hong Kong.' And, perhaps understandably, he said he had no desire to return to the territory other than as a visitor. 'I had thought about it and I think as a family we would like to go back for a visit. After all my children were born and raised there. I don't feel any hatred for the place, but I certainly would not consider living there.' In the close-knit community of Tauranga, the attitude towards Reid is one of studied indifference. 'Oh yeah, he's that lawyer bloke who stole the money in Hong Kong,' said motel owner, Dennis Thompson. 'I reckon he's paid his dues and is free to start again. That's the thing about this place - a lot of people come here to do just that.'