Man jailed seven years for killing his best friend at a remote North Island pa

Tawara Mita died after being stabbed in the remote Hawke's Bay village of Tuai last year.
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Tawara Mita died after being stabbed in the remote Hawke's Bay village of Tuai last year.

Alcohol, drugs and anger led a young man to kill his best friend at a pa in a remote North Island settlement.

Pukehore Turipa-Wano, 21, fatally stabbed his best friend Tawara Mita, 20, on July 1 last year. 

The pair, from Tuai near Lake Waikaremoana, had worked together during the day and in the afternoon began socialising with others at Waimako Pa, where Turipa-Wano was living.

Pukehore Penehio Turipa-Wano was sentenced in the High Court at Gisborne last Friday.
Marty Sharpe

Pukehore Penehio Turipa-Wano was sentenced in the High Court at Gisborne last Friday.

Turipa-Wano drank alcohol and consumed cannabis and methamphetamine and as the evening wore on his behaviour changed and he became more aggressive and threatening. 

READ MORE: Man found dead in Tuai was Tawara Mita

He smashed bottles and flipped a kitchen table, then picked up a large knife and threatened a man with it. Another man suffered a cut to his arm in a scuffle while disarming him. He stormed off.

The township of Tuai is near Lake Waikaremoana.
MEGAN HUNT / FAIRFAX NZ

The township of Tuai is near Lake Waikaremoana.

Police were called, but they were 40 minutes away.

Meanwhile Turipa-Wano returned to the group with a knife and a large wrench. In a rage he smashed walls and cupboards and screamed "which one of you wants to die?".

Mita, regarded by Turipa-Wano as his best friend, told him to stop and said he was putting on an act. A struggle began between the two men and Mita was stabbed twice before he restrained Turipa-Wano and told him to leave.

Mita died of internal bleeding a short time later.

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When police arrived and told Turipa-Wano he had killed Mita, he became very remorseful and said that he himself deserved to die.

He was charged with murder, wounding with reckless disregard and unlawful possession of a firearm. At the start of his trial in the High Court at Gisborne in June, his lawyer Russell Fairbrother, QC, invited the jury to find him guilty of manslaughter, not murder.

The jury did that, and on Friday last week Turipa-Wano was sentenced by Justice Karen Clark.

Clark acknowledged victim impact statements from two of Mita's sisters, who spoke of the devastation of losing their cherished brother. 

The judge said the women were restrained, thoughtful, and kind to Turipa-Wano. One said she did not hate him, but was disappointed he had shown such a lack of self-control, and had not sought the help he needed to deal with his issues. The other sister said he still had a chance to have a future.

Turipa-Wano left school at 17 and began voluntary work with his iwi, Tuhoe, in kiwi conservation. Shortly before killing Mita, he had been given a permanent paid position with the Conservation Department doing the same type of work. He spoke fluent te reo and had a passion for tikanga, and had no previous convictions.

He had written an apology to Mita's family, and the judge had accepted his remorse was real. He had also never denied causing the death of his best friend.

Clark sentenced Turipa-Wano to seven years jail on the three charges.

 - Stuff

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