Attack victim Connor Morris had planned to start a family with Millie Elder-Holmes.
Connor Morris helped Millie Elder-Holmes to turn her life around.
The 26-year-old construction site manager, who battled P-addiction alongside the daughter of Sir Paul Holmes, died late on Saturday night after being struck in the back of the head with a machete in Massey, West Auckland.
It seemed the young couple, who marked their sixth anniversary in June, had overcome their personal demons in recent years and were looking forward to a future filled with new opportunities, with talk of children on the cards.
A policeman takes a passerby's posie of flowers to place them as a tribute. Photo / Richard Robinson
But Mr Morris' decision to walk to a service station on Saturday night triggered a chain of events which brought an abrupt end to the couple's dreams.
It is understood Mr Morris was at his sister's housewarming party in Massey when he and others decided to head out for cigarettes.
It was meant to be a short trip along Don Buck Rd but there was an exchange of words outside a house where another party was taking place.
A fight broke out and Mr Morris was hit on the back of his head. It is understood the boyfriend of a cousin of Mr Morris held the attacker down until police arrived.
Sources have told the Herald that Miss Elder-Holmes, who had remained at the housewarming several doors down, arrived after becoming aware of the incident.
She held Mr Morris in her arms but efforts to save him were unsuccessful.
Mr Morris was pronounced dead while being transported to hospital.
Armed Police guard the scene where Connor Morris the boyfriend of Millie Elder-Holmes was fatally attacked. Photo / Richard Robinson
His family have strong links to the Head Hunters gang but Detective Inspector Greg Cramer said the fight was not believed to have been gang related. Police have described it as a random attack.
Several residents said they heard the commotion and in particular a woman screaming about midnight.
A number of people were injured in the altercation. "There were a number of minor injuries consistent with a fight," said Mr Cramer.
Two people were arrested for disorder-related offences - one of whom received medical treatment for breathing difficulties - but no charges had been laid last night.
Mr Morris was a site manager for Auckland company BCR Concrete Construction. His boss, Glen Donovan, was devastated by the death of "a great guy".
"He was more than just your average employee. He got on really well with my wife and kids. He was loyal, honest, and turned up every day."
Mr Morris had worked for the company for just over three years.
Brother Calen Morris posted a message of grief on Facebook. "my big hearted little brother was murdered ... i love my family and im sorry i wasnt there ... be strong morris crew and ill see you all soon."
Ms Elder-Holmes could not be reached for comment, but has previously spoken about her relationship with Mr Morris and how he helped to turn her life around.
"Connor is my biggest fan," she told the Herald on Sunday earlier this year while talking about her Clean Eatz NZ Facebook page, through which she promotes recipes and workout ideas in line with her outlook on healthy living. "He gets so excited and proud of me for my page."
Facebook pictures show the couple happy and in love. Late last year they travelled to Asia, Dubai, Italy, Paris, Amsterdam and Greece on an OE.
Ms Elder-Holmes' life begun to unravel in 2008 when she was arrested on drugs charges. Her falling out with Sir Paul, her broadcasting-icon father, also made headlines, highlighting problems the then 19-year-old was struggling with.
She credited Mr Morris for helping her through her battle with P.
To come clean, the couple lived a hermit-like existence, eating, sleeping and watching TV in their flat.
She told Metro magazine that after four years of a drug-addled lifestyle, the first three months were hell.
"It was horrible. Really, really horrible. You get really fat. I went from 55kg to 85kg."
Messages of support flooded Facebook yesterday. "My thoughts and prayers go out to two amazing people," said Maky Redon. "Millie i can't tell you how sorry I am for your loss. Connor you'll be missed dearly. Will always miss going around to see you both. Rest in peace big guy."
Lynda Doorish wrote: "So sorry to hear the sad news Millie - we all feel so sad with this terrible news."
Their time together
• According to his Facebook page, Connor Morris, the son of a patched Head Hunters gang member, attended Avondale College.
• Millie Elder-Holmes, daughter of New Zealand current affairs icon Sir Paul Holmes and child psychologist Dr Hinemoa Elder, attended the private Diocesan School for Girls.
• The young couple began dating in June 2008.
• They made headlines a number of times between 2008 and 2010 as they faced repeated criminal charges, mostly for drug offences.
• In 2012, after having been drug-free for two years, Ms Elder-Holmes admitted she had been "a bit of a shit", with little respect for her family, as she battled her $1000-a-day addiction. But she credited Mr Morris with helping to save her from that decline and turn her life around.
• She would not have won the battle with P without him, she said in a 2012 interview in Metro. They eventually became clean without professional help by living a hermit-like existence, eating, sleeping and watching television in their West Auckland flat, which she said was a haven for the couple.
• On June 6 this year, the couple marked their six-year anniversary. Mr Morris posted a photo of them and commented: "Marking our six year anniversary today with my ride-or-die chick ... Here's to many more years to come."
• The two had their first OE together between September and December last year, travelling through Europe and Asia and both meeting distant family members in Italy and Greece.
Read Pebbles Hooper's interview with Millie in March here: tinyurl.com/millieholmes