21 May 2024

Gisborne mass brawl deaths - Grandmother of slain man says she forgives

3:40 pm on 21 May 2024
Police said they dealt with a large brawl in the Gisborne suburb of Elgin, late on Saturday 23 March 2024.

A police car at the scene of the double killing in March. Photo: RNZ/ Ashleigh McCaull

The grandmother of a man killed at a Gisborne birthday party that erupted into violence says she has forgiven those police allege are involved.

Nearly 100 people were at Chrysler Stevens-Mark's 21st birthday party on 24 March when a mass brawl broke out.

Stevens-Mark and 30 year-old Kane Taare-Gray (also known as Kane Te Paa) were fatally wounded.

Police said two Gisborne men aged 29 and 26 - already facing multiple charges of wounding with intent - have been jointly charged with the killings.

Taare-Gray's grandmother said one of the men has close whānau ties to her family.

"My mother always taught us to forgive, not worth holding something inside of you, you've got to love and forgive.

"If you don't forgive anyone you'll be holding it in all the time. I feel alright, I have been grieving at night but I've forgiven those boys. Just sad that one of them happens to be... his grandmother is my cousin," she said.

Three other people were hospitalised - two with critical injuries.

Taare-Gray was pictured in online tributes wearing a Black Power patch and nearby residents reported members of the gang at the party and performing a haka as bodies were taken from the Lytton Road property where the tragedy occurred.

Soon after the killings, police dispelled any concerns the incident involved "rival gang factions".

In a statement Detective Inspector David de Lange said police were continuing to support the whānau of the dead men and other victims who were still recovering from their injuries.

"This has been a very complex investigation, and our investigation team members have worked hard to get answers for the grieving whānau and friends, and the wider community.

"We are appreciative of the assistance we've received from our colleagues in other police districts as the investigation has progressed, and for assistance provided by people who were at the birthday party and who came forward with information," de Lange said.

Details of court appearances for the accused were yet to be confirmed, he said.