Christmas killing: Family speak after alleged murder of father-of-five

Author
Anna Leask, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 26 Jan 2021, 9:28PM
Wipatene Mason was allegedly murdered at Christmas. He died on Boxing Day two days after he was wounded in a a violent incident. Photo / Supplied
Wipatene Mason was allegedly murdered at Christmas. He died on Boxing Day two days after he was wounded in a a violent incident. Photo / Supplied

Christmas killing: Family speak after alleged murder of father-of-five

Author
Anna Leask, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 26 Jan 2021, 9:28PM

The family of a father-of-five killed after a violent incident on Christmas Eve say they will never recover from his death, which has "wrecked" their lives.

Wipatene Mason, 41, was injured during an incident at Nukuhou, south east of Whakatane, on December 24.

It is understood he was stabbed multiple times and despite a number of emergency surgeries in a bid to save his life, he died on Boxing Day.

A 35-year-old man was initially charged with wounding Mason with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Police laid an additional charge of murder when he appeared in the Whakatane District Court last week.

The man was remanded in custody until his next appearance in the High Court at Tauranga in February.

Police say their investigation into Mason's death is ongoing and further charges are likely.

Mason is survived by his wife Donna, their five children and three grandchildren.

Donna Mason spoke to the Herald today about her loss.

"We are still processing it all," she said.

"He was very much a family man, he provided for us, he lived for his family - for his children and grandchildren.

"We were his world."

Donna Mason said Christmas was usually a very special time for her whanau as her daughter's birthday is on December 25.

She turned 15 last month.

"We usually celebrate her birthday on Boxing Day and keep it separate from Christmas Day," the grieving widow explained.

"But forevermore it doesn't matter what we do, forevermore Christmas, birthdays are wrecked.

"We're so lost ... the backbone of our whanau is gone."

Donna Mason could not comment on the specifics of the alleged incident in which her husband was fatally wounded.

But she revealed it happened at their children's school.

On top of her family's brutal grief, and trying to organise Mason's tangi and sort finances and other things - she also had to deal with finding a new school.

"It's not just the incident, it's the future of my children's education," she said.

"To send my kids to school after this every day is not cool.

"There are not a lot of options for good mainstream schooling in this area - we've got excellent schools for te reo but our children are mainstream.

"I've got so much on my shoulders at the moment, not just with what's happened to Wi - but there are so many other repercussions."

Mason was a well-known figure in the community and his family said people were in shock over his sudden and tragic death.

Wi Mason died on Boxing Day after an alleged violent attack on December 24. Photo / Supplied

Wi Mason died on Boxing Day after an alleged violent attack on December 24. Photo / Supplied

He worked for the Department of Conservation for many years as a ranger, working a lot with kiwi in their native environment.

But he was accidentally poisoned at work and his wife said he was medically retired.

He spent his days helping people - helping "everyone" he could.

"He helped everyone in the community, he helped them build houses, he did everything at our marae - the tangihanga, he dug the urupa," said Donna Mason.

"He would have given the shirt off his back to anyone ... now that's gone, there's nothing.

"It's ridiculous ... it's left such a big hole for us."

Donna Mason said her husband was caring and loving and his children missed "everything about him".

"Just him, we miss everything ... there's not one day or one minute that goes by that we don't all miss him," she told the Herald.

"It's so traumatic ... his mum lives next door with his sister and they are a huge support, our family are always here every day to make sure we are okay, but it doesn't lessen the pain, it doesn't lessen everything we have to go through.

"Forevermore, that is Christmas and birthdays ruined ... it's such a huge waste... everything about Wi was special, he was special to his community and to his whanau.

"He played a big role in the community, with the young ones, with his cousins ... the impact is not just on our family - Wi was the first one to put his hand up and go and help people.

"This action has just left a huge whole in our hearts - and one that will never be filled ... time is going to help but it's not going to bring him back."

Other family members paid tribute to Mason on social media.

Mason's father Rob Carter said he was "one of the quietest, humble helpful humans" he'd ever met.

"He freely gave food and his time and firewood to anyone who needed it in and around the Waimana Valley, where he lived with his wife and five children," he wrote.

"He was the first, along with his wife to assist at any tangi in the area. They both travelled many miles to assist anyone who needed them.

"(He was) a great dad who took his kids fishing and spent many family hours together."

Carter said Mason had a quiet and shy manner but would be "missed by many in a very loud way".

"Wi, you were an inspiration to many and I for one am going to miss you dearly," he wrote.

"I thank you for the many years you have given to my daughter and mokos, and we thank you for being you - one in million."

Donna Mason's sister Alison spoke of her love for Mason.

"Instead of celebrating Christmas this year my family waited in the ICU at Waikato hospital, through multiple surgeries, and prayed this amazing man would survive the horrific stab wounds he received ... while trying to help another person," she said.

"Devastatingly on Boxing Day (Mason) passed away, leaving his beautiful wife without her best friend and five amazing children without their father.

"I still can't comprehend this entire event.

"Wi has left such a huge gaping hole in the lives of so so many. He was such a special soul."

She said the love and respect for Mason was evident at his tangi.

"The literal earthshaking haka was one of the most emotional things I've ever experienced," she said.

She encouraged anyone who wanted to help the Mason family to visit the Givealittle page.

"My sister is the strongest person I know, I wish I could be with her, I wish I could do more," she said.

"The last thing these guys need to be worrying about is money, so if you have a spare $20 or even $5 and would like to help my family, any little bit will help at this devastating time and I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart."

Do you want to help?

Visit the Givealittle page for Wi Mason's wife Donna and their five children by clicking here.