25 Mar 2024

29-year-old to appear in court after two killed in Gisborne mass brawl stabbing

8:31 am on 25 March 2024
Police said they dealt with a large brawl in the Gisborne suburb of Elgin, late on Saturday 23 March 2024.

Two people were killed and three others injured during a large brawl in the Gisborne suburb of Elgin late on Saturday night. Photo: RNZ/ Ashleigh McCaull

A Gisborne man is set to appear in court on Monday, after two people died and several were wounded in a stabbing at a birthday party brawl.

Police have given more detail about the events that led to the mass brawl involving 100 people, ending with two dead and three injured.

Detective Inspector David de Lange told Morning Report two uninvited guests arrived at the party, there was a disagreement over a minor matter, and things escalated.

The arrested 29-year-old is charged with wounding with intent over one of the wounded men, and he will appear in the Gisborne District Court on Monday.

De Lange said he did not believe the arrested man was known to the victim and that further charges could not be ruled out.

He also said police did not believe the brawl involved any rival gangs.

"Some of the people present, including those who arrived - the uninvited guests - were gang members, or associates of gang members, but this party was a whānau and friends party to celebrate a birthday."

Police were called to the party in the suburb of Elgin around 11.30pm on Saturday, he said.

"It was a pretty chaotic scene, high emotion, and the staff attending did an outstanding job."

A number of calls were made to police about the incident, he confirmed, including some from occupants at the address.

Interviews were continuing and could take several days, given the number of people who needed to be spoken to, de Lange said.

The police presence at Gisborne Hospital remained as the victims were still in hospital, he added.

High police presence in place to reassure community

Minister of Police Mark Mitchell told Morning Report the situation in Gisborne was now "calm" but additional police had been brought in from around the district to provide reinforcement and to help support the community.

"High profile reassurance patrols" were taking place to reassure the community it was safe.

Mark Mitchell

Minister of Police Mark Mitchell said he felt it was important for him to travel to Gisborne following the brawl. Photo: RNZ

Mitchell said police were doing an "outstanding job" in a situation he described as "very complicated".

"They have a big scene to deal with and a lot of witnesses, and obviously it's a double homicide."

Mitchell said he decided to travel to Gisborne himself after he saw the scale of the event.

"I knew that it would have a big impact on the community down here, so I felt that it was important to get on the ground to support the community, support our police."

'Something unfortunate and very tragic happened'

Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz is insisting the town is a safe place to live following the "tragic" brawl.

"I think it's fair to say everyone is unsettled," she told Morning Report.

But she said the community had been through a lot together in 2023, and its members would "stand together and get through this".

"We all live here because we love this place but something unfortunate and very tragic happened."

Stoltz said the community was grateful for police efforts since Saturday night and for the support local police had received from officers who had travelled from Hawke's Bay to assist.

She did not want to speculate on the circumstances surrounding the brawl but said overall, Gisborne was a safe place.

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