Man's body taken to father in prison before tangi

VICTIM: Joe Collier and Ayla Shaw, "the love of his life".
VICTIM: Joe Collier and Ayla Shaw, "the love of his life".

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

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

His family did not want to talk about it because they felt hurt by media coverage, and worried it would incite gang rivalries, a relative said.

The tangi will be held at a marae near Opotiki.

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

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

Initially, Taupo's Tuwharetoa iwi expressed concern it was not properly consulted about the body being taken on to its land.

However, Department of Corrections said the matter was resolved, and a kaumatua performed a blessing and welcomed the body to the prison.

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

On Tuesday, gang members took to the streets of Opotiki seeking retribution, resulting in seven people being arrested and one being admitted to hospital.

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

Security was high in Rotorua District Court yesterday when a 34-year-old man appeared on a charge of murder.

The accused was granted name suppression until his next appearance in the High Court at Tauranga on August 6. The man walked into the court dock in a blue boilersuit, accompanied by two court staff and two police officers.

Earlier in the day, four men appeared in 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 other three were dressed in blue overalls.

Collier's sister, Lisa, has appealed for calm in Opotiki saying "there's no need to get even".

Opotiki Mayor John Forbes condemned the violence saying it had no place in the community.

He said 99 per cent of the community was carrying on 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 said.

They would not comment on the case while it was before the courts. Fairfax NZ

Waikato Times