The family of a murdered Whangārei forestry worker have described their anguish, at the High Court yesterday.
By Sam Olley for RNZ
Haze Peihopa's killer, whose name suppression will be lifted next week unless appealed, was sentenced to 18 years in prison with a minimum non-parole period of seven and a half years, after being found guilty at a jury trial last year.
He was also sentenced to serve one year concurrently for assault with a weapon. On Saturday, the victim's partner, Tayla, described the shock she experienced to the court.
"Within a blink of our eyes, the biggest part of my life was gone," she said.
"My life went from perfect to the biggest nightmare anyone could dream of."
She said she suffered from depression and anxiety and lost half of her weight.
The family of the killer cried as they listened.
A statement from Tayla's mother, Rochelle, was also read, about the night of Peihopa's death, when she arrived at the hospital.
"Tayla was beside herself, in total shock yelling, screaming, crying. My heart broke to see my beautiful daughter in such an emotional state of sorrow and pain.
"All I wanted to do was take the pain away from her but I couldn't. To see your child so young, go through this horrific ordeal, was one of the worst things I've ever witnessed in my life."
She said the grief was "raw".
"My daughter was struggling saying that she couldn't cope with the pain. There she is, kneeling over vomiting, so distraught that her partner, of nearly four years, had been taken away from her ...This was so painful, she couldn't eat, she couldn't sleep, she cried all the time. She said she couldn't cope."
A statement from Talea, Peihopa's stepmother, said "no family should have to endure" what her family had.
She said Peihopa was always "the first to help you without judgment".
"You stole him away from us, you took his life, we never got to see him again," Talea told Peihopa's killer.
"I'll never see him propose, have a family of his own, buy his first home, or reach his full potential, or even age - all the things he desperately wanted to achieve."
Peihopa's family wore hoodies and T-shirts with his name, dates of birth and death, and his photo on them.
His mother, Arnaka, was one of the last to read a statement.
She said the doctors told her at the hospital they had never performed procedures like their attempts to save Peihopa - drilling into his bones to keep his heart pumping blood.
"They were quite traumatised."
Arnaka said the murder left her "in a constant mindset of torture" thinking if she had been in the CBD that night, she could have saved her son from harm.
"When you stabbed Haze you put that blade through me and all my family, shattering our souls to the core. No mother should ever have to see their son die like that."
His sister, Keita, said growing up, Peihopa was so popular, "you could walk down the street, look on the North Shore and cars would pull over just to say hi - old neighbours, schoolmates and whānau".
During the sentencing, some of Peihopa's family members had to leave the court, or be removed, because they were overwhelmed by grief and vocalised outbursts, at his killer.
The killer's younger brother was also sentenced for injuring Haze with intent.
Both were silent and unemotional in the dock, looking down, and sometimes at Peihopa's family.
The brothers' mother cried and nodded when she heard the victim impact statements.
Justice Brewer said the brothers had had a difficult upbringing.
"Your father became a member of the Headhunters gang, methamphetamine entered the house, and both your parents became addicts. There was a lot of domestic violence, and you were beaten and abused," he said.
"The gang lifestyle was normalised for you. And you thought violence was normal and the solution to problems. Methamphetamine took what money there was in the family and you lived in poverty."
The younger brother was convicted of injuring with intent - but having spent nearly two years on bail, he was not sentenced to any further punishment.