A man sentenced to four-and-a-half imprisonment for manslaughter in relation to the death of Bay of Plenty school principal and councillor Hawea Vercoe has been granted parole after two years.

Mr Vercoe died after being assaulted by Tai outside a Whakatane bar in 2009.

Isaiah Johnson Richard Tai, 24, was originally sentenced to two years, 10 months imprisonment after pleading guilty to manslaughter - a term that shocked and infuriated Mr Vercoe's family. On a Solicitor-General's appeal, that term was later increased.

The Parole Board this month granted Tai parole, saying it was "impressed by his maturity despite his young age" and that any perceived risk to the community resulting from his release could be managed.


The board also acknowledged the victim's family were not satisfied with the restorative justice meeting and had since apologised for his actions, said the decision.

"In answer to a Board member's questions, he acknowledges that it was not that Mr Vercoe died, but that he was killed at his hands and that is something that he will need to live with for the rest of his life, an issue he is struggling with and is receiving ongoing counselling for," it said.

In its decision, the board said there had been "a significant change in attitude and focus in Mr Tai's life".

He had become conscious of his Maori culture, motivated by a letter from the victim's uncle, given to him at a restorative justice meeting.

In it, it asked what contribution he was going to make to Maoridom after having committed this offence.

"Mr Tai has stated that he felt he owed it to Mr Vercoe and his family and all his own support people to live a better life and to become fully committed to remaining crime-free and to focus on his Maoridom," said the decision.

As part of the parole conditions, Tai is to attend counselling programmes, stay at an agreed address, not have contact with the victim's family and not to consume drugs or alcohol.