Five more arrests in relation to death of Tauranga man Mitchell Te Kani

6:16 pm on 16 January 2023

By Ethan Griffiths, Open Justice reporter of NZ Herald

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Police have arrested another five people in relation to the death of a Tauranga man, bringing the total number of defendants charged with murder to eight.

In May last year, police were initially called to a disorder incident involving a group of people at a residential address on Maungatapu Road, but officers arrived to find 51-year-old Mitchell Te Kani dead.

Five men, aged between 24 and 30, were arrested and charged with murder today, and will all appear in either the Tauranga or Hamilton District Courts early this week.

They were also charged with assaulting other people at the scene of Te Kani's death.

A man and a woman were previously arrested shortly after the alleged killing in May last year. The pair was originally charged with aggravated burglary, which was upgraded to murder about a month later.

A third person was arrested just last week and also charged with murder.

Also today, police arrested two further people who were charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice.

It is understood police investigated upwards of 20 suspects, with a large group of people believed to have been near the property at the time of Te Kani's death.

Crown prosecutor Sonny Teki-Clark told the court in a previous hearing that the trial should be set down for the Hamilton High Court, with there being too many defendants to fit in the Tauranga courthouse.

While Te Kani had no kids of his own, an uncle of his said he adored his nieces and nephews.

"He was a very active and well-loved member of all of the communities that he associated himself with."

The murder investigation remains ongoing, police say, with a trial tentatively set for 2024.

* This story originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald.