Former NZ cop Joshua Liava'a 'murdered' in Hawai'i

A one-time Auckland detective who had two high-profile affairs with members of the Tongan royal family has been murdered in Hawaii, Tongan media report.

He's been named as Joshua Liava'a, 65, news website Kaniva Pacific says.

Liava'a held Tongan, New Zealand and Australian citizenship.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser says Liava'a's nephew, Samuela Mataele, 18, has been arrested and charged.

Honolulu police told the Star-Advertiser Mataele fired one round from a rifle, hitting a man in the head.

Mataele then threatened to shoot a 36-year-old, but that man was able to run away and alert police.

He was caught after a seven-hour manhunt during which part of the Kamehameha Highway and Waihee Rd were blocked as heavily armed police hunted him.

Kaniva Pacific said the news had been confirmed by Auckland family member Taufu'i Moala, who said family were gathering in Auckland to prepare for Liava'a's funeral.

Liava'a had a colourful life.

As a 21-year-old Auckland University student he eloped and married Mele Siu'ilikutapu who at the time was 13th in line for the Tongan throne. Marriage between commoners like Liava'a and royalty is outlawed in Tonga so the then king, Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, had her virtually kidnapped from Auckland and taken home.

The marriage was annulled and she was married off to a noble.

Liava'a later joined the New Zealand police and in the 1980s was something of a media figure, being a larger than life and blunt officer.

He left the police in the 1990s and then re-emerged as a Sydney nightclub operator.

In 1999 Tonga held general elections against a backdrop of growing unrest over the near absolute power of the royal family.

The election was scandalised when sexually explicit love letters written by the current Princess Royal, Pilolevu Tuita, were widely circulated.

The letters made it clear that she and Liava'a had become involved with each other.

While that was bad enough, it was the princess's attitude toward royal duties that also caused an uproar.

"I was brought up not to fall in love, so that when the time came for my marriage to be arranged, the idea of it would not be distasteful to me," she wrote.

She has never denied writing the letters, but had condemned Liava'a who made little secret of publishing them.

In the letters she said she had failed to produce a son.

"So, when you hear that I have become pregnant or given birth again, it's not that I have forgotten you (for I never will), it's just normal performance of such duties that are expected of me."

She never had a son.

Liava'a later complained he had suffered retribution and alleged that Tongan authorities had alerted New Zealand and Australian police, claiming he was going to kill the king.

Liava'a told the New Zealand Herald in 2000 that he was not interested in assassinating the king but "rather sorting out my situation with them in Tonga".

He said he had met with the then Tongan commissioner of police, Sinilau Kolokihakaufisi.

"I told him I had been wronged for 31 years,"Liava'a said.

He told the Herald his marriage with the princess had been of two people of age to marry.

"They could not give a stuff. From the day they found that I married their princess in 1969, they said they would kill me," he told the Herald.

"I believe that it was an underestimation on my part to think that what happened in 1969 had passed into history.

"It has since transpired that these guys will never let up. I thought they might be upset and, after a few days, they would accept it."