Michael Valentine was once hailed as a hero, but now the young father is dead - stabbed over something apparently minor.
Ambulance and police staff found the 27-year-old on the front lawn outside his home on an unnamed gravel road off State Highway 1, 7 kilometres north of Levin, on Friday night.
He had been stabbed with a knife once in his chest and died at the scene.
A 31-year-old man is scheduled to appear in the Palmerston North District Court today charged with murder.
Two other men, aged 22 and 29, have been charged with assault.
Yesterday Mr Valentine's step-father , John Timmer-Arends, told The Dominion Post he had found out about the attack "basically in real time" from someone who phoned from the scene.
"We are just totally bewildered that this could happen and we are struggling to deal with what's happened," he said.
"We are tired [and] emotionally numb.
"It's not a nightmare - it's much worse than that. Everything is never going to be OK again."
Mr Valentine, a former Waiopehu College student, lived with his fiancee, to whom he proposed in November, and another flatmate.
His four-year-old son lived in Taupo with a previous partner, but the pair had regular contact.
"It is hugely cruel for a little kid - obviously he doesn't realise that yet," Mr Timmer-Arends said.
About seven years ago Mr Valentine nearly died after he was hit when a driver lost control of his stolen car outside O'Malley's Bar bar in Levin.
He was credited with saving the life of a woman during the incident.
"It [the car] mounted the footpath and Michael just managed to push the girl out of the way and he took the full impact of the car hitting him and crushing him against the wall."
Mr Timmer-Arends said the incident typified his stepson's attitude. "He was very generous of spirit. If he had $2 he'd try and give away $4.
"[He] always had a smile on his face [and was] hugely loyal to his friends, sometimes to his own detriment."
Arrangements were being made for his funeral, which would likely be held later this week.
Detective Senior Sergeant Marc Hercock said an autopsy completed yesterday revealed Mr Valentine died from a single stab wound to the chest.
The fatal altercation occurred during an argument over "a couple of minor issues", which then escalated.
He would not reveal the nature of the disagreement, but said financial debt did not appear to be a motive for the attack.
Misinformation and speculation on social media had been detrimental to the investigation, he said.
He appealed for sightings of a 1997 white Mitsubishi Pajero 4WD, registration CTJ418, between the hours of 6pm to midnight on Saturday.
- The Dominion Post
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