The killer of aspiring Maori leader Hawea Vercoe has had his first bid for parole turned down.
Isaiah Tai is serving four years and six months jail for the fatal attack on Mr Vercoe, outside a Whakatane bar in late 2009.
Mr Vercoe was a Bay of Plenty regional councillor and a school principal in Rotorua.
Isaiah Tai has admitted kicking Mr Vercoe after drunkenly punching him to the ground.
The Parole Board says the acknowledgement is a good step forward but says Tai needs to learn to be firm about not giving in to the temptations of alcohol or drugs.
Tai is a low-security inmate and is considered to pose a moderate reoffending risk.
He has completed the Maori Therapeutic Programme, and will soon begin at the Drug Treatment Unit.