Slain Samaritan's wife asks NZ to say how he touched them

By Edward Gay, NZPA

The widow of Good Samaritan Austin Hemmings has called for people to tell her how he may have touched their lives.

Over 2000 mourners turned out to farewell 44-year-old who was fatally stabbed in Auckland's CBD last Thursday.

His hearse was escorted from Devonport's Holy Trinity church by two police officers on motorcycles following his funeral.

His wife Jenny Hemmings freed the first of 44 white doves - one for every year of Mr Hemmings' life - and was joined by her daughters and son in freeing the birds across the Devonport sky.

The pallbearers of Mr Hemmings' casket included brothers Grant and Craig and other friends.

The church was reduced to standing room only and the parish hall next door - with a CCTV link-up - was also full for the moving ceremony.

Mrs Hemmings told the congregation that many people had approached her and asked what they could do.

"Please write to me and tell me please that Austin has changed you," she said.

She thanked the people of NZ for their "heartfelt prayers" and messages.

Mr Hemmings' brother Craig described Austin as "a hero".

He thanked police, the NZ public and all those who attended the funeral.

He described his brother Austin as a man devoted to his family, his religion and work.

Mr Hemmings' daughter Jessica said her father had prayed for the community.

"Seeing everyone here today my dad's prayers got answered," she said.

"He gave love, hugs, friendship and, in the end, his life."

Brother Grant said Austin "was not a foolhardy person" but last Thursday "went to the aid of a person asking for help because it was the right thing to do".

He also thanked members of the public who left flowers and cards for the family at the murder scene in Auckland's Mills Lane.

Among the mourners was the woman whose aid Mr Hemmings rushed to before his death.

Before the service a huge projector screen showed images of Mr Hemmings' life including family shots of his Matamata farm and the beach house.

Police and many Devonport locals attended the funeral despite the Hemmings only having lived in the small seaside suburb for six months.

Yesterday, police said they had found two knives near Mills Lane where Mr Hemmings collapsed and died about 5.30pm last Thursday.

They believe one of them was probably used to stab Mr Hemmings.

"Both have been sent to the ESR for forensic examination," said Detective Senior Sergeant Gerry Whitley.

Police were also looking for a taxi driver who may have taken the man alleged to have stabbed Mr Hemmings to an Otara address.

Eleven hours after Mr Hemmings died police arrested a 45-year-old man in Otara and charged him with assaulting the woman Mr Hemmings had tried to help.

He appeared in the Auckland District Court and was remanded in custody until later this month when he was expected to face a murder charge.

Tomorrow a mobile police station would return to Mills Lane in the hope of uncovering more details about what happened immediately before and after the attack.

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