Victim ‘left this earth a hero’ protecting his nephews and nieces

Homicide victim Mitchell Te Kani died a hero following a home invasion in Maungatapu, Tauranga, said a family member.

Te Kani was killed at a house on Maungatapu Road on Saturday evening when “young gang members of the Mongrel Mob” allegedly burst into the house in a “brutal home invasion” said the family member, who wished to remain anonymous.

“They were not teenagers, but I wouldn’t say they were established gang members, more like young prospects – a new breed,” he said.

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The family member said Mitchell was trying to protect whānau in the family homestead, particularly his younger nephews and nieces.

“He died in a valiant attempt to protect his small nephews and nieces from becoming victims of the wrath and violence that had burst into their whare,” said the family member. “In my book, he left this earth a hero.”

Police were at the Maungatapu Road address in Tauranga on Sunday and Monday

Alan Gibson/Stuff

Police were at the Maungatapu Road address in Tauranga on Sunday and Monday

Te Kani’s whānau are struggling to come to terms with the loss.

“We are shaken to the core. It’s hard for his siblings, his dad and the wider whānau, especially his nephews and nieces who he showered with aroha.

“As a whānau we have rallied around to find comfort and support each other through this time of unimaginable grief.”

The grief is mixed with anger and disbelief at the violent way their loved one died, he said.

“Emotions are raw and turn from calm to rage in an instant. However, we must navigate through the turmoil together and support the police to do their job now in getting justice.”

Te Kani’s body was removed from the house at around 8pm last night and has been driven to Auckland, where a forensic post-mortem is taking place. At this stage the family still do not know how he died.

“The post-mortem will give us more answers, and police have been gathering all the clues and evidence to find those responsible,” he said.

Detective Senior Sergeant John Wilson said police were initially called to a disorder incident on Saturday night on Maungatapu Road. When they arrived at 10.30pm, they discovered Te Kani’s body.

Police forensic scene examination at Maungatapu Road, Tauranga

Alan Gibson/Stuff

Police forensic scene examination at Maungatapu Road, Tauranga

A homicide investigation was launched and police forensic teams were examining the scene at the address on Sunday and Monday.

Te Kani, 51, was a truck driver and a much-loved member of his whānau and the wider community, said the family member.

“Our family wants to make it clear that Mitch and our family are not affiliated with gangs in any way,” he said. “The family did not invite any gang members to the house.

“The Mongrel Mob was not invited – they entered the house in a violent invasion. Mitch was just there trying to protect his family. He has nothing to do with gangs.”

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