There has been a widespread and shocked response to the stabbing death of an Opunake man early this morning.
While police are yet to release the 37-year-old's name, his friends and family are expressing their devastation at the death of the man they called a ''gentle giant''.
Taranaki police chief Inspector Blair Telford said police were notified of the stabbing in the coastal township just before 6am today.
The arrest of a 33-year-old suspect by the Armed Offenders Squad was confirmed about 11am.
The Taranaki Daily News understands the man arrested is well known to police and may have gang connections.
Mr Telford said it appeared there was an argument between the two men leading to the stabbing.
Fifteen officers are working on the investigation.
Two houses in Opunake, in Allison St and Gisborne Tce, have been cordoned off for forensic examination.
Mr Telford said police are making inquiries and have a number of people including family members to speak to.
''One of our main priorities is removing the man's body from his property and returning him to his family as soon as possible,'' Mr Telford said.
Kay Fleming, a direct neighbour of the Gisborne Tce property, said the victim was a good neighbour and a good father.
''I heard them out at the washing line one day. The boy was hysterical, he wanted to do something, but I could just hear him saying 'no, sorry boy, you can't go'. He never raised his voice or used bad language or anything.''
The first Mrs Fleming and her husband heard of the incident was when they saw multiple ambulance, fire and police cars and officers outside their house.
''The fire siren had gone off four times but we'd thought it was just the wind.''
One of the victim's cousins said his death was a tragedy.
He had been an active man, interested in snowboarding and surfing and had lived in Opunake all his life, she said.
He lived alone with his son who was about 12 years old, she said.
''He was a really cool guy. Had a great personality and he was always on the go, you couldn't keep up with him.''
Other residents echoed her sentiments and he appeared to have been well-known and well-liked by the community, with many people calling him a friend.
Typical of the outpourings on Facebook since the news broke, one person posted: ''Sad times on the coast this morning. Be strong everyone. Thoughts and prayers to [the dead man's son] and all the family.''
Another said: ''Can't believe this..truly one of the good guys taken ... gentle giant ...whoever has done this has something coming back at them.''
The arrested man is expected to appear in the New Plymouth District Court tomorrow.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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