Topic: Tauranga Murders
There are many different reasons why people kill and Tauranga is in no way immune, having had it's fair share of murder victims from historical times to the present. This page is intended to stand as a memorial to the victims of murder in the Tauranga area. Page researched and written by Debbie McCauley.
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1867: Alfred J Campbell Private Campbell (Private, 1st Waikato Regiment) attended a parade before collecting rations at Gate Pa then heading home to his Oropi smallholding. It is thought that he encountered Te Kaumarua and was fatally struck by Kewene. He was reported missing. Some time later his skeleton was unearthed at the side of the road between Waimapu and Oropi, along with those of a horse and a foal. The skeleton provided evidence of broken vertebrae due to gunshot wound. Inquest result: 'Murdered by natives on about 7 January 1867.' Alfred was the first casulty of the Tauranga Bush Campaign (1867). New Zealand Herald (29 August 1867), Hawke's Bay Weekly Times (23 September 1867). The Tauranga Bush Campaign 1864-1870 (1998) by John Koning (p. 39).
1892: Grace Emma Munro (nee Freeman) 30 year old Grace and her children were attacked by her husband with a flat iron and rolling pin at approximately 7.15am on 9 February 1892. She and her children sustained severe head injuries. Grace was found on the kitchen floor and died six days later (reg. 1892/672). One of her sons, 3 year old Alexander, survived the attack. Her husband, Duncan Munro, had suffered from increasingly worse epileptic fits for years which developed into a religious mania. He was employed by his step-father, businessman and former Mayor of Tauranga, James Bodell. Munro was certified insane after he tried to annoint his newborn son by breaking a kerosene lamp over his head. His mother had him released after six months and he returned to his family in Tauranga. Munro was acquitted on the grounds of insanity. This was the first case of murder by a European in Tauranga. Bay of Plenty Times (10 February 1892).
1892: George Munro 6 year old George was attacked by his father, Duncan Munro, on 9 February 1892. Along with his mother and siblings he sustained severe head injuries. George was found lying with his mother in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor. He died about twenty minutes after his younger brother John (reg. 1892/626).
1892: John Munro 4 year old John was attacked by his father, Duncan Munro on 9 February 1892. He was found along with his baby sister lying on a double bed in the front room. Along with his mother and siblings he sustained severe head injuries. He died after convulsing at 10am on the morning of the attack (reg. 1892/627).
1892: Lilian Munro 7 month old Lilian was attacked by her father, Duncan Munro on 9 February 1892. She was found along with her older brother John lying on a double bed in the front room. Along with her mother and siblings she sustained severe head injuries. Lilian died at approximately 11am on the morning of the attack (reg. 1892/628).
1928: Elsie Walker 17 year old Elsie was sent to live with her uncle Frank Bayly and five cousins at Papamoa. She disappeared on 1 October 1928 and her battered body was found in Tamaki, Auckland. Her eldest cousin William Bayly (1906-1934) was suspected but his family covered for him. In October 1933 Bayly was suspected of murdering his neighbours; farming couple Sam and Christobel Lakey of Ruawaro, Hamilton. He was arrested, his trial lasting a month. Once found guilty he was hung at Mount Eden prison in Auckland on 20 July 1934. He was survived by his wife and two young sons.
1972: Gillian Morris 14 year old Gillian was shot on the corner of Fraser Street and 11th Avenue. She had been walking home with her friend, Stephen Jones, at around 9.40pm when the shooting occurred. As they were not far from Gillian's home, Stephen ran there to get help. Gillian's father telephoned the Police then rushed to her aid. Police were at the scene within minutes, but Gillian was already dead. A search revealed a young man with a rifle, Francis Raymond Richards, aged 20, dead across the road in Memorial Park. A package of opium was found on his body. He was known to Gillian. It was found that Francis had obtained a licence to purchase the rifle on the same day as the shooting.
1973: Donald Armstrong Akuira McLean On 7 December 1973, Donald's wife Lauraine McLean shot her husband in the head whilst he slept in their Oropi home situated across the road from Oropi School. Half an hour later she heard him making a horrible noise so she shot him again (reg. 1974/39416). She had discovered that Donald's girlfriend, Lucy Waenga, was pregnant with his child and could not bring herself to separate from her husband. Lauraine was found guilty of manslaughter.
1980: John Mark Bidois During a confrontation between rival gangs in Wickham Place, John was run over by a Bedford truck and killed. Mongrel Mob and Black Power gang members had been drinking at the Tauranga Hotel and then at Whetu Marae in Welcome Bay. When both groups drove away they started to abuse each other before pulling over and confronting each other. Joseph Hohepa Thompson, aged 23, was found guilty of the manslaughter of John Mark Bidois in Tauranga on 6 December 1980. Please see additional notes from John's daughter Shannon Bidois in the comments section at the bottom of this page.
1985: Marc Bronson Attrill Born on 16 March 1974, 11-year-old Marc was stabbed to death in his home at Ranch Road, Mount Maunganui on 25 March 1985 by his 36-year-old mother who also stabbed herself and was sent to Tokanui Psychiatric Hospital for assessment. Also stabbed was 16-year-old Michael Attrill. Marc was buried in Pyes Pa Cemetery on 29 March 1985 (Bay of Plenty Times 26 March 1985, Bay of Plenty Times 1 April 1985, Bay of Plenty Times 4 April 1985, Pyes Pa Cemetery Tauranga Headstones).
1986: Luana Deborah LaVerne Williams 25 year old Luana Williams disappeared from her home in Munro Street, Gate Pa, on the night of 5 June 1986. Although initially labelled suicide or missing persons Luana's case was re-opened as a homicide inquiry in 1994. Her body was never found and she was declared legally dead in February 1998. The case has remained unsolved. Luana was convicted for selling cannabis in 1983 and it is unknown whether her murder is connected to this activity. The site of her former home is now the Mitre 10 Mega carpark.
1988: Carol Lee Messenbird The body of 26 year old Tauranga woman Carol Lee Messenbird was found dumped in a sleeping bag at the side of a railway embankment in Ampthill, Bedfordshire, England in 1989. She had been murdered in late October 1988 by boyfriend 'Dave' (actually Ian John Peter Steele) at Woodview Guest House in Archway Road, Highgate. Steele had escaped from maximum security Central Industrial Prison at Long Bay, Sydney, four years earlier and was on Australia's 10 most wanted list. Carol's ashes were returned to New Zealand in November 1989 and a service held in Tauranga. Steele was convicted of murder and sentenced to 21 year's in prison. Sydney Morning Herald (20 January 1986). Auckland Star (3 April 1989). New Zealand Women's Weekly (6 November 1989, pp. 14-16). See also: Black Kalender.
1988: Janet Michelle Wardell 26 year old Mount Maunganui woman Janet Wardell was followed home from a bar to the sleepout behind her parents' home before being tied up. The killer sharpened his knife and told her he was going to cut her throat before plunging the blade deep into her neck. There was also evidence of a sexual assault. Her 15 year old brother Andrew Wardell discovered her body. Janet was mentally and physically disabled after suffering serious burns to more than half her body when she was aged three. She is thought to have pulled a face at the killer in a bar. Christopher Thomas Watkins pleaded guilty in the Tauranga District Court to murdering Janet and to the sexual violation of two other women. Link to Offender Details.
1989: Monica Cantwell British backpacker Monica grew up in the Surrey village of Lingfield. A week into a short visit to New Zealand she was attacked just below the summit Mauao (Mount Maunganui) on 20 November 1989. The murderer dragged Monica into bushes and strangled her as he raped her, leaving her lying semi-naked about 50 metres from the track. Police found her three days later after friends reported her missing. Nine days earlier 20 year old Auckland storeman Charles John Coulam had broken into the flat of a Remuera, Auckland woman and attempted to rape her. The Mauao attack was planned in advance, the victim selected at random. Before travelling down to Mount Maunganui, Coulam told flatmates he had been fantasising about strangling a woman as he raped her. When he arrived home after being away for a week and boasted about being responsible for Monica's death, his flatmates called the police. Sentenced to "life imprisonment" in December 1989. Monica is remembered in a memorial plaque on Mauao. Bay of Plenty Times (4 March 2013). Coulam was denied parole in 2016. Bay of Plenty Times (21 September 2016). Link to Offender Details.
1991: Graham Hutchinson Neill In the early hours of Boxing Day 1991 off Ocean Beach. Graham was 'baptised' (deliberately drowned) by Donald Munro in a bout of religious fervour. Munro was remanded to Tokanui for psychiatric assessment.
1992: Lana Anne Procter On 16 July 1992 Lana was abducted, raped and brutally murdered at a Rangiuru Road orchard in Te Puke. Her naked and battered body was found hidden on the kiwifruit orchard. Michael Mikaere Clarke (20) and Mita Henry Malcolm (18) pleaded guilty and were sentenced to life imprisonment by the High Court at Rotorua. Timothy James Clarke (22) and Samuel Whare Tua (22) admitted charges and were sentenced to 12 years' each in the High Court at Auckland. The murderers were all Te Puke men. Bay of Plenty Times (29 April 1993).
1992: Judith Anne Yorke Judith lived in Te Puke. Police believe that the 25-year-old solo mother attended a party in a packing shed at Te Manaia orchard in Matapihi on 21 October 1992, and disappeared from there. In black pants and top, she had arrived at the party with a group of people in her car, a 1979 white Honda Accord. The vehicle was driven back to Te Puke by one of her companions the next day. Later, Judith's mud-covered black shoes, one on either side of a shelter belt, were found on the 3.25ha orchard, now a housing estate. A homicide investigation drew a blank. Police are convinced the key to the mystery lies with the 30 partygoers that night. Bay of Plenty Times (26 June 2006).
1993: Jim Fletcher 49 year old Jim (businessman son of Sir James Fletcher, and brother of Fletcher Challenge CEO Hugh Fletcher) was stabbed in the chest with a bread and butter knife after disturbing intruders during a home invasion at Papamoa on the last day of 1993. 15 year old Siale Fotu from Te Puke was sentenced to a "life sentence" in September 1994. Link to Offender Details.
1995: John Edie 22 year old John was kicked to death in a prolonged and vicious attack at a Makatu party in June 1995. Mongrel Mob member Tokoroa Phillip Graham was sentenced to four years' imprisonment for his part in the death. Link to Offender Details.
1997: Stephanie Baker Former Whakatane Intermediate and Tauranga Girls' College student. On 18 July 1997 Stephanie arrived at the parent's home of her former partner Jason Robert John Butler to drop off their one year old daughter. 25 year old Butler stabbed her in the back and throat. In court he pleaded not guilty but received a ten year life sentence in April 1998. Link to Offender Details.
1999: Jo-Anne Maree Van Duyvenbooden In August 1999 Jo-Anne was shot three times in Welcome Bay, dragged from her home, thrown down a bank and her mattress dumped on top of her body. Her interest in manufacturing methamphetamines, or speed, the gang's "bread and butter," was seen as a threat to Filthy Few (former president) member James Henry Wilson who was sentenced to life imprisonment with a 13 year non parole period in August 2000. Link to Offender Details.
2001: Raymond Noel McKenzie On 15 June 2001 at 5am in the morning, an intruder stabbed 64-year-old Noel 14 times in front of his wife at their home in Myers Street, Pillans Point. David McGruther was sentenced to 13 years minimum in November 2001. His own mother had taken a trespass order out against him. Link to Victim Impact Statement. Link to Offender Details.
2001: Marta Webber 76 year old good Samaritan Marta rented one of three flats (Unit D) behind her Tauranga home to a Samoan woman who claimed to have cancer, but had really just gambled away most of her family's money. On 31 July 2001 Marta was strangled with an orange lavalava after refusing to hand over money to Ema Neru. Ema was found two weeks later outside a casino in Wellington. Sentenced to "life imprisonment" in May 2002. New Zealand Herald (7 May 2002). Link to Offender Details.
2002: John Hobson Rogers John was a 55 year old former teacher who was attacked in the toilet block at Wharepai Domain in the early hours of 29 July 2002. He received a single stab wound to the lower back and a blood stained 38cm knife was lying nearby. John left a trail of blood as he tried to return to his car. He was rushed to hospital but died during surgery. The investigation name was Operation Wharepai with police believing that John's openly gay lifestyle may have been a factor in his death. David Hynds, a 24 year old Tauranga sickness beneficiary, was arrested three weeks later. He was found insane and detained in a forensic psychiatric institution for an indefinite period in September 2003. Link to Offender Details.
2005: Natasha Hayden The 24 year old's body was found in her red Mazda Familia car at McLaren Falls Park in the lower Kaimai Ranges on 10 January 2005. Michael John Curran, whilst released on bail for Natasha's manslaughter, murders two year old Aaliyah Morrissey. He was sentenced to 9 years for the manslaughter of Natasha Hayden in June 2006. Link to Victim Impact Statement. Link to Offender Details.
2005: Aaliyah Morrissey While on bail for the manslaughter of Natasha Hayden in January 2005 Michael John Curran murders two year old Aaliyah Morrissey at 34 Haukori Street in September 2005. X-rays and CT scans reveal she suffered internal injuries, including brain and abdominal injuries, torn retinas in her eyes, and a fractured forearm. She also had extensive bruising on her face, arms, legs and torso. Sentenced to 20 years 6 months non parole for the murder in February 2008. Link to Victim Impact Statement. Link to Offender Details.
2005: Grant Trevor Adams Known as 'Granite', his burned skeletal remains were exhumed from a steam vent at the Wairakei geothermal powerstation near Taupo in June 2007. Tauranga company director Brett Michael Ashby, who lived on a rural Ohauiti property, was charged with Adam's execution-style murder. Ashby was the brother-in-law of career criminal Arthur Taylor and died of liver cancer in 2009 before he could be brought to trial. On 14 December 2005 Adams was shot up to five times in Ohauiti before being wrapped in a rug, transported to Wairakei, set alight and buried. Tauranga man Craig Cullum was charged and convicted with being an accessory after the fact to the murder. Stuff.co.nz.
2005: Mikaere (Michael) Douglas O'Sullivan and Toni-Anne Nathan Omokoroa couple Michael (42) and Toni-Anne (39) were shot dead underneath the Wairoa Bridge on State Highway 2 at Te Puna at around 2.46am on 31 October 2005. They had just completed a high-speed journey from Auckland to Te Puna in 50 minutes to meet with Rotorua truck driver Anthony Doyle. The couple were meeting Doyle to repay their $5000 methamphetamine debt but Doyle believed that he was being set up and so shot them. Rotorua Daily Post (23 June 2006). Link to Offender Details.
2005: Teresa Audrey Gunn and George (Andrew) Andrew Grabner Teresa and her new partner Andrew, a 39-year-old Tauranga plasterer, were stabbed to death by Teresa's ex-partner at her home at 128 Mansels Road, Greerton on 11 December 2005. Teresa's brother-in-law Wiki Ngarimu also suffered serious injuries whilst protecting his partner and baby. Teresa and ex-partner Jason August Reihana had a long history of domestic incidents. Reihana kicked in the door wielding a knife with a 30cm long blade in a frenzied knife attack. Andrew's body was found on the ground at a property across the street whilst Teresa was discovered dead in her backyard. Reihana was jailed for at least 21 years. Bay of Plenty Times (14 December 2005). Link to Offender Details.
2007: Darrell James Crawford Methamphetamine cook Darrell (35) went missing from his Oropi home on 12 August 2007. It is believed he was murdered at Te Puke and may have been buried with William Taikato. Three men were charged with the double murder of Darrell and William Taikato but were acquitted by a judge when their case went before the court in April 2011.
2007: William Taikato William (40) was involved in the Tauranga drug scene and went missing on 18 December 2007. It is believed he was murdered at Welcome Bay and may have been buried with Darrell Crawford. Three men were charged with the double murder of William and Darrell Crawford but were acquitted by a judge when their case went before the court in April 2011.
2010: Ravneet and Anna Sangha On 4 June 2010 Ravneet was stabbed 100 times while her husband was in India on business. Two year old Anna found her mother lying in a pool of blood in the laundry and fled to her bedroom and then the lounge, but was found by the killer who carried her back to the laundry and stabbed her ten times in the face and neck. Her body was then thrown into the washing machine with clothing and turned on. Ravneet's body was found in their Ngatai Road home in Otumoetai two days later, Anna's discovered the following day. Their boarder, fruit packer Deepak Nagpal, aged 24, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 20 years. New Zealand Herald (18 February 2011). Link to Offender Details.
2010: David Noel Tait On 22 June 2010, 76-year-old David was bludgeoned to death with a claw hammer in his 15th Avenue home by his son, Murray Tait, who shared the home with his parents. David's wife Janice had left the house to walk the dog just eight minutes before the attack during which David sustained at least five blows to the top of his head after an argument over the washing. Murray then wiped the hammer clean and returned it to the tool rack in the garage before driving around for several hours. Police found him on Turret Road upon which Murray walked into the Tauranga harbour to try and avoid them. David died the following day in Tauranga Hospital. Murray was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder.
2011: Sandra Rachel Brown On 20 February 2011, 59 year old Sandra was killed in a frenzied knife attack in Graham Place, Bellevue and her 27-year-old daughter, Kate Iris Brown, seriously injured. Kate's former partner, 41 year old Tamati Benson Mason, of Ngati Ranginui iwi, pleaded guilty to the crime. Bay of Plenty Times (4 May 2012). Link to Offender Details.
2011: Gary Clayton Kimura On 5 October 2011 Gary was assaulted at his Margaret Road home, dying five weeks later on 16 November 2011, his 44th birthday. He was married to Rosina Kimura and father to six children. The Tauranga businessman ran Gary's Tyres in Sulphur Point for around 15 years. Charged were Jesse Christopher Hartley (28) of Mount Maunganui, Taonui Hiku (26), and Witeri Ahomiro Neketai (35), both unemployed of Te Puke, and Joseph Rewiri (44), of Auckland. Bay of Plenty Times (15 February 2013).
2011: Colin Bidois On 5 December 2011 fifty year old Colin was bashed to death by sickness beneficiary Mark Rangiwaiao after drinking at a party in central Tauranga. The motivation was Colin's theft of a packet of cigarettes and cellphone. His body was discovered in 4th Avenue near Devonport Road. Rangiwaiao was jailed for a minimum period of 11 years. 3News (18 July 2012).
2011: Tony Williams 38 year old Tauranga man Tony Williams was found bludgeoned to death at a Mermaid Waters unit complex in Brisbane, Australia on 23 December 2011. He was the lead singer of band Sex 'N' Chocolate. The new partner of his ex-partner is said to have been motivated by jealousy and the mistaken belief that Williams had raped his ex-partner. Matthew Cox armed himself with a hammer before posing as an Australian Post employee to gain entry to the apartment. Cox was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2014. Brisbane Times (5 December 2014).
2012: Robyn Anne Prole 57 year old Robyn worked as a teacher's aide at Brookfield Primary School. Robyn had moved out of the family home after a domestic violence incident in April 2012 which resulted in a protection order against her husband. At 2pm on 29 July 2012 she arrived home and emptied the mailbox at the friends house in Bell Street, Judea, that she was staying at. As she sat in her car going through the mail her husband approached the car. He began yelling at her through the open window, then reached inside and grabbed her, before repeatedly stabbing her in the throat, chest and stomach with a knife he had hidden inside his trouser pocket. Tauranga builder Rex Leverett John Prole, aged 64, admited that was guilty of her murder and was jailed for at least 11 years and six months for stabbing his wife to death with a kitchen knife. Bay of Plenty Times (10 April 2013).
2013: Isaac Dale Bushell 46 year old Isaac from Maketu was found dead with a bullet wound in the chest in a park at Beach Road, Maketu on 8 December 2013. Tyrone Daniel Flavell (19) was found guilty of manslaughter, claiming he acted in self-defence when he fatally shot Bushell at close range. Flavell and his girlfriend were sitting in his ute in the carpark when Bushell approached and punched Flavell twice in the forehead as a warning to end his relationship with the girlfriend who was the ex-partner of Bushell's friend, a prison inmate and patched Mongrel Mob member. They had all earlier been at a 40th birthday party at Maketu. Flavell loaded his shotgun and approached Bushell who taunted him before Flavell pulled the trigger.
2014: Takena Tiepa-Ranapia 19 year old Takena, reportedly from the East Cape but living in Tauranga, was discovered dead outside a Mansfield Street home near Ohauiti Road on 30 November 2014. Police believe he had walked about 500 metres with a stab wound to the neck before collapsing in a driveway. A blood trail led from outside a Mansfield Street house, where Takena had attended a party earlier, to a reserve before looping back to where he was discovered outside a second Mansfield Street house. The murder was linked to an assault on nearby Ohauiti Road earlier in the evening, when Brooklyn Ormsby-Ratahi suffered minor stab wounds to her hand and face. Mount Maunganui Mongrel Mob member Hiakita (George) Hori Eruera (aged 36) was found guilty of murder on 12 December 2015 and later sentenced to life in prison. His motivation seems to be his step-daughter lying about being attacked. Bay of Plenty Times (27 November 2015), Bay of Plenty Times (14 December 2015), Bay of Plenty Times (24 March 2016).
2015: Ilya Olegovich Kojevnik On 2 February 2015 Russian immigrant Ilya was killed after being hit by a black Subaru on Welcome Bay Road, near James Cook Drive. The driver fled the scene. Papamoa man Raymond Green was arrested the following morning and charged with murder, driving while forbidden and refusing a blood specimen when requested by a police officer.
Law Breakers and Mischief Makers: 50 Notorious New Zealanders (2009) by Bronwyn Sell.
Policing Two Peoples: A history of Police in the Bay of Plenty 1867-1992 (1993) by Jinty Rorke.
How to cite this page: McCauley, Debbie (2013). Tauranga Murders. Retrieved from http://tauranga.kete.net.nz/tauranga_local_history/topics/show/1398 (Tauranga Memories, last updated: *insert date*). In-text citation: (McCauley, 2013)
This page was archived at Perma cc February 2017 https://perma.cc/9hwt-db45