Man dies after NYE assault

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Lee Rata, 35.
Lee Rata, 35.

A Givealittle page has been set up to help the family of a man who died following injuries from what police described as an unprovoked attack in Kaitaia.

Police said Lee Rata, 35, from Kaitaia was assaulted in Bonnett Rd around 11pm on New Year's Eve. A passing police patrol was flagged down by a member of the public informing them of a badly injured man on the side of the road.

Mr Rata was transported to Kaitaia Hospital and further transported to Whangarei Hospital but died around lunchtime New Year's Day.

On the Givealittle page Mr Rata is described as a beloved son, brother, father, uncle and partner and it says he was "taken from us in the most brutal way imaginable".

Mr Rata's sister Liz Waipouri said her brother - who left behind a 6-year-old son and 5-month-old daughter - loved his family and would do anything for them.

"He has a massive circle of friends because you couldn't help but be drawn in, he's such a loveable guy.

He doesn't have a lot of worldly possessions but he has a ton of love and loyalty to give. He will give you the shirt off his back," Ms Waipouri said from Australia.

"He has an extremely close bond with our youngest brothers, the twins. Growing up they looked up to him. He used to play wrestling with them, and they could talk for hours. His sense of humour will have you in fits of laughter, always has a story to tell and he tells it in a way that is fit for the big screen - hand movements, different voices the whole nine yards.

"I don't talk about him in the past tense because he's still with us, watching, guiding and protecting. Doing what he does best."

Fifteen police are investigating the homicide and several search warrants have been executed in Kaitaia, but no arrests had been made at edition time yesterday.

"Mr Rata received a severe beating and it must have been seen by someone," said Detective Inspector Kevin Burke, Northland Police District Criminal Investigations Manager.

"There were a number of people in the area at the time. Mr Rata's family are naturally grieving and we urge people who have information about what happened to come forward to police. This would help give the victim's family some form of closure," Mr Burke said.

Police would like to hear from anyone who may have seen him earlier in the evening and people who were in the Bonnett Rd area attending a party to contact them on 09 408 6500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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