Kaitaia murder victim Lee Rata died from 'blunt force trauma'

Lee Rata with his sister Liz Waipouri and nephew Adrian. Rata died from injuries caused during an assault in Kaitaia.
LIZ WAIPOURI

Lee Rata with his sister Liz Waipouri and nephew Adrian. Rata died from injuries caused during an assault in Kaitaia.

An autopsy has revealed a man who was attacked on New Year's Eve died from blunt force trauma. 

Northland police have boosted their investigation team to 22 staff who have been called from as far as Waikato to help with the investigation into the murder of Lee Rata.

Rata, 35, was attacked on New Year's Eve and was found lying seriously wounded on the side of a road in Kaitaia shortly before midnight. 

He was taken to hospital and was put on life support but died the following day. 

READ MORE: Kaitaia New Year's Eve assault victim Lee Rata 'protector of the family'

On Monday, Detective Inspector Kevin Burke, manager of Northland criminal investigations, said police from Auckland and Waikato were called to help because of the "large number of witnesses" that needed to be interviewed. 

A post-mortem had confirmed Rata died from blunt force trauma, he said. 

Rata's body has since been returned to his family, who will hold a tangi in the Far North on Tuesday. 

"Our priority is to establish who was responsible for this vicious beating and hold them to account," Detective Inspector Burke said. 

A function had taken place not far from where Rata was found on Bonnett Rd and Burke said police were still interested in hearing from anybody who attended that function, who had since left the area. 

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"We have received good assistance from the public which has helped us in establishing who were present at the function in Bonnett Road near where the assault occurred.  This includes numerous images of people who were at the function, he said. 

"We are continuing to identify and speak with function guests and those who were nearby." 

Police would like to hear from anyone who may have seen the victim earlier in the evening and people who were in the Bonnett Rd area or attending the function to contact them on 09 408 6500. 

Information can also be given anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

 - Stuff

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