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Father farewells slain son in prison

KATIE KENNY
Last updated 16:55 16/07/2014
VICTIM: Joe Collier and Ayla Shaw,
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VICTIM: Joe Collier and Ayla Shaw, "the love of his life".

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Opotiki's slain Joe Collier was today farewelled by his father in prison, and will tomorrow be remembered by family and friends at a tangi. 

Initially, Taupo-based Tuwharetoa iwi expressed concern it was not properly consulted about the body being taken onto its land.

However, Department of Corrections said the issue was resolved, and a kaumatua performed a blessing and welcomed the body onto the site. 

Collier, 22, died after a gang-related brawl near Goring Street in the Bay of Plenty town on Sunday. 

His family don't want to talk about it, because they feel hurt by media coverage, and worry it will incite gang rivalries, a relative said. 

The tangi will be held at a marae near the Bay of Plenty town. After three days of heightened tension, relatives have said it's time for the media to bow out. 

"We don't want it splashed around, because there's big gang rivals at the moment going on," a family member told Fairfax Media.  

"Bow out for a little while, and let us get on with our grieving," she said.

She praised the Maori officers at Rangipo prison, saying they were "wonderful", and "understanding" during today's visit.

TV ONE's Breakfast was told Collier's father was denied leave from prison due to high security risks surrounding the death. 

Yesterday, gang members took to the streets of Opotiki seeking retribution, resulting in the arrest of seven people and hospitalisation of one.

Collier had Mongrel Mob links, though his mother-in-law said he was not a member, and had no plans to join.

Security was high at Rotorua District Court today when the alleged killer appeared on charge of murder. 

The 34-year-old accused was granted interim name suppression until his next appearance in Tauranga High Court on August 6. The man walked into the court dock in a blue boiler suit, flanked by two court staff and two police officers.

Earlier in the day, four men appeared at Whakatane District Court charged with violence offences. Kingi Atkins Warren, 24, Steve Tutaki Warren, 31, and Zane Herewini Warren, 26, were jointly charged with injuring with intent to injure and Johnny Barlow Onekawa, 20, was charged with assault using a vehicle.  

Onekawa limped in wearing a hooded sweatshirt, while the three who appeared on the joint charge were dressed in blue overalls.

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Collier's sister, Lisa, has appealed for calm in the Bay of Plenty town, saying "there's no need to get even".

Mayor John Forbes condemned the violent behaviour, saying it had no place in the community. He said ninety-nine per cent of the community was continuing business as usual. 

On the Bay of Plenty police Facebook page, locals thanked police for their work.

Others said they felt unsafe after the escalating gang conflict, with locals reporting gunshots and gang attacks. 

Bay of Plenty Police thanked Opotiki residents who delivered baking to the police station yesterday for staff. "After a couple of very long days nothing hits the spot like a bit of home baking and the community spirit is greatly appreciated."

Police would not comment on the case while it was before the courts.

- Taupo Times

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