Expert says gang may bide its time once killer found.
As Connor Morris' grieving family prepared for his tangi last night at an Auckland boxing gym, police said they were hunting for the weapon and the person or people responsible for his death.
Friends and relatives from around the world were making plans to return to New Zealand after the 26-year-old partner of Millie Elder-Holmes, daughter of the late broadcaster Sir Paul Holmes, was killed in a fight in Don Buck Rd, Massey.
The body of Mr Morris - the son of a prominent Head Hunters Motorcycle Club member - was returned to his family yesterday. Gang members waited for it to arrive at Fight Club 88 in Ellerslie, a gym with strong links to the Head Hunters and where Mr Morris had regularly trained.
Police are describing the incident as a "random" fight with no gang links. Yesterday, two men who were at the scene when Mr Morris was fatally injured appeared in court on charges relating to outstanding fines and breach of community work. But they were not kept in custody. No arrests have been made over the killing.
Criminologist Dr Greg Newbold said he would be surprised if there was any retribution when the accused killer was initially found.
A floral tribute to Connor Morris rests near the spot where he was fatally attacked. Photo / Sarah Ivey
"The Head Hunters are a very organised group. Normally if there was going to be retaliation, the gang would have a meeting and they would discuss the matter fully; they wouldn't just run in there and do something in a hot-headed way."
It was more likely the gang would let justice take its course, but the killer would likely be in danger from gang sympathisers once imprisoned.
Dr Newbold also expected a heightened police presence at the funeral and any court proceedings.
Mr Morris, a construction site manager, is believed to have been struck in the back of the head with a machete. Police said yesterday they were still searching for the weapon.
The scene remained cordoned off and 30 detectives were working on the case. Forensic testing continued and a white Honda car had been towed from the scene.
A family death notice in today's Herald reads: "One of life's precious gems will be forever missed. Our hearts are broken. Beloved son of Chris and Julie, cherished brother of Cymmion and Tonto, adored uncle of Izzy and Gabby, best friend and soulmate of Millie."
Fight Club 88, in Marua Rd, will act as a place for family and friends to pay their last respects. A founding trustee of the trust that runs the gym, Wayne Doyle, said the Morris family had requested a tangi at the premises.
"He [Connor] trained here for a few years so we know him quite well and he is more than welcome here," said Mr Doyle. "The family asked specifically for him to be held here, so we just accommodated their wishes."
The club announced the decision in an online notice to its members.
"Our boxing gym will be closed this week or until further notice," it said, "due to upstairs being used for a tangi for Connor Morris, who will be starting his journey from here to the great hunting halls of the Valhalla."
In Norse mythology, the Valhalla is where warriors who die in combat go after death.
Yesterday, a lone bouquet of pink flowers lay on the doorstep of the Massey home Mr Morris is believed to have shared with Ms Elder-Holmes, his partner of six years.
She posted a link on her Facebook page to a web memorial to him. "R.I.P Connor Morris" had amassed close to 4000 "likes", or shows of support, within hours of its creation yesterday afternoon.
Meanwhile, a West Auckland resident has described hearing a woman "screaming her head off" after the fatal attack.
Mr Morris was at a housewarming on Don Buck Rd when he and several others left to get supplies. They had walked only metres before an altercation erupted with a group outside a different property.
A neighbour, who lives between the two homes, said there had been loud music and plenty of "whooping and yahooing" at the housewarming before things turned sour.
"It all went quiet and I couldn't see anything but then there was one woman screaming her head off."
Mr Morris was treated by medics but died on the way to hospital.
Jan Tuua, who lives next door to where the housewarming took place, said the occupants were a young family who had recently moved in.
"It [the party] was really loud . . . They had a bit of a DJ set-up."
Pankaj Patel, the owner of nearby Keith's Superette, described Mr Morris and Ms Elder-Holmes as a lovely couple.
He said they would often come into his shop to buy dog food and other items, and if nobody else was waiting to be served Mr Morris would stop awhile to talk with him.