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Three charged after birthday party murder

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 24 Jan 2024, 2:12PM
One person was killed and another suffered critical injuries in a shooting in Stokes Valley on December 16. Photo / Georgina Campbell
One person was killed and another suffered critical injuries in a shooting in Stokes Valley on December 16. Photo / Georgina Campbell

Three charged after birthday party murder

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 24 Jan 2024, 2:12PM

Three people have been charged over the alleged murder of a Lower Hutt man and attempted murder of his brother during a birthday party last month.

Rawiri Zane Wharerau, 39, was killed and his 41-year-old brother narrowly escaped the same fate on December 16 after a shooting at their home in Stokes Valley.

The shooting happened during a relative’s 50th birthday celebration in the early hours of the morning, with Wharerau dying at the scene and his brother being rushed to hospital in a critical condition.

A 33-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman are due to appear in the Gisborne District Court tomorrow on charges of murder and attempted murder, Detective Inspector Haley Ryan said.

A 53-year-old woman is also due to appear in the Gisborne District Court charged with being an accessory after the fact.

“A dedicated team of police officers and detectives from throughout the Wellington District have worked diligently on this investigation over the past six weeks,” Ryan said.

“From day one we have worked closely with the tight-knit community of Stokes Valley, and the Wharerau whānau.

“The investigation team would like to thank the community and whānau who helped us tremendously in the investigation, providing information which assisted in identifying those responsible and holding them to account.

“No one deserves to suffer the events that led to the death of one brother and the serious harm of another.

“We hope these arrests provide reassurance to the community and Wharerau whānau.”

After the shooting, which happened on George Street, one local told the Herald she was awake at the time of the incident.

One person was killed and another suffered critical injuries in a shooting in Stokes Valley on December 16. Photo / Georgina Campbell
One person was killed and another suffered critical injuries in a shooting in Stokes Valley on December 16. Photo / Georgina Campbell

Huck Haeata, who lives in one of the Kāinga Ora homes on the street, said she heard a loud and powerful boom.

“The cat looked at me and I was like: ‘What was that?’ I’ve never heard that before.

“That stopped me and my cat in our tracks.”

Haeata said she didn’t realise what had happened until the next morning.

Police have charged three people over the killing, which happened on George St, Stokes Valley. Photo / Georgina Campbell
Police have charged three people over the killing, which happened on George St, Stokes Valley. Photo / Georgina Campbell

“It’s shocking when you know that in that moment, ... someone’s life was taken. I heard someone’s life [being] taken.”

The shooting came less than a month after the Hutt Valley community was left reeling following two deadly incidents in 24 hours.

The first incident occurred in the early hours of November 16 when a woman was killed in a hit-and-run on Naenae Road.

Later that day, police shot and killed a man who was involved in a domestic dispute with a woman on Coast Rd in Wainuiomata.

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