Police investigating the murder of Kaitaia man Lee Rata are trying to trace the movements of a car they suspect was used in the crime.

Mr Rata, 35, was severely beaten on Bonnett Rd in Kaitaia on New Year's Eve while a wedding party was taking place at a nearby home. He was found by a passer-by and died the following day in hospital.

Police have so far charged one man with murder. Four others, all affiliated to the Mongrel Mob in Moerewa and Kaitaia, have been arrested during the operation but face unrelated charges, mostly for drug-dealing and burglary.

Police are now calling for sightings of a silver 1994 Nissan Primera car, registration YD7680.

The officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Inspector Kevin Burke, said he wanted to hear from anyone who saw the vehicle between Thursday, December 31, and Sunday, January 3, in the Kaitaia or Moerewa area.

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Anyone with information could call the Kaitaia station on (09) 408 6500 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Mr Burke said police had received great assistance from the public and the investigation was progressing.