22 Sep 2023

Killer of Napier woman Arohaina Henare pleads guilty to murder

6:37 pm on 22 September 2023

By Ric Stevens of Open Justice by NZ Herald

Forensic staff investigate at the scene of Arohaina Henare's death.

Forensic staff investigate at the scene of Arohaina Henare's death. Photo: NZ Herald / Paul Taylor

A man said "How dare you put your hands on my missus" as he swung a knife into the chest of a woman, causing a fatal injury.

The man pleaded guilty and was convicted of the murder of Napier woman Arohaina Henare when he appeared in the High Court on Friday.

Henare, 34, died in the garage sleepout where she lived at a property in the Napier suburb of Marewa in the early hours of 18 November last year.

Her killer was the man who was allegedly beaten and stomped on in the dock when supporters of the dead woman scaled a two-metre barrier during a procedural hearing in his case, in the Napier court on 11 September.

The name of the man, who is in his 40s, and any details that could identify him remain suppressed, at least until his sentencing on 14 November.

Defence counsel Elizabeth Hall said inquiries were being made into any risks posed to him given the incident in the court last week.

Crown prosecutor Clayton Walker, reading from a summary of facts, said the woman had been involved in an ongoing dispute with the man and the man's partner, and on a previous occasion Henare had shoved the partner into a wall.

He said the man confronted the woman in her sleepout about 3am.

He moved towards the woman, backing her up in a corner, before stabbing her with a knife in a swinging blow to the left side of her chest.

"How dare you put your hands on my missus," he said.

The man's partner was with him and tried to intervene, but neither called emergency services after leaving Henare slumped on the floor, unconscious and bleeding profusely.

Emergency services were called at 4.23am after Henare was discovered by friends.

Police arrived and tried to resuscitate her but she was pronounced dead when ambulance officers reached the scene.

Walker said the stab wound punctured her lung and caused internal bleeding, leading to her death.

Friday's hearing was conducted by Justice Christine Grice, who was in the Wellington courthouse with Hall. Walker was in the court at Napier and the accused appeared from prison, all connected by audio-visual links.

At the end of the hearing a Napier court staff member gave a karakia, which was answered by a woman in the public gallery.

Seven members of Henare's family and supporters were in the public gallery in Napier, compared with about 30 people on the day that three men scaled the barrier and allegedly assaulted the man in the dock.

Security was tightened for the only case called in the Napier court on Friday, with police and security staff in the building outnumbering members of the public.

Justice Grice said the Ministry of Justice was conducting a review of security following the 11 September incident.

Two men have been charged with assault with intent to injure after the courtroom attack. They have been remanded on bail to appear in the Napier District Court on 4 October.

- This story was first published by the NZ Herald