'Hard out' fight fatal


A man who died after a fight in Flaxmere had earlier been wrestled to the ground and put in a "choke hold", witnesses say.

Ephrame Ronald Waihape, 40, was found unconscious by police in the driveway of a Whitby Cres house just after 5pm on Saturday and was unable to be revived, police said.

A witness, who did not wish to be named, said the deceased had visited the Flaxmere house on Friday and had been heard warning the occupants he would be back.

"He came back and s***, he's dead," the witness said.

Mr Waihape was believed to be the former partner of the female occupant of the house.

It's understood he returned to the house about 4.30pm on Saturday but was refused entry.

"He jumped through the window quicker than I ever could," the witness said.

Another bystander said they saw "hard-out fighting" outside the home a short time later.

He said Mr Waihape was put into a "choke hold" and fell to the ground.

Detective Sergeant Darren Pritchard of Hastings police said Mr Waihape was unconscious when police arrived.

St John ambulance staff were called but were unable to revive him, despite working on him for over half an hour.

A crowd of about 50 gathered outside the house as emergency services arrived.

"Once the family showed up there was a lot of crying," another witness said.

A forensic examination of the scene by police and ESR forensic specialists was carried out yesterday and an autopsy was due to take place today, to establish the cause of death.

The deceased's family and friends gathered at the scene yesterday morning, waiting for the body to be released.

A friend of the family, standing beside flowers pinned to the fence early yesterday, said the family were in shock.

"It's all a bit raw.

"We are just trying to deal with not being able to uplift the body."

Police said they had spoken with two occupants of the house and were not seeking anyone else in relation to the incident.

One witness said he regretted he did not intervene, but the deceased had been acting irrationally.

"I could have stopped it ... but I didn't want to get involved. I feel pretty stink."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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