Almost one in 10 homicide victims are killed by their parent or a parent's live-in partner, a new report that delves into the circumstances surrounding murder and manslaughter cases has found.
The Homicide Victims in New Zealand Police report analyses all cases over eight years according to gender, age, ethnicity, relationship of the victim to offender, where the crime took place and if a weapon was used.
Maori are far more likely to be homicide victims - 31 per cent of all cases, despite Maori accounting for 15 per cent of the national population.
Homicide numbers are not released with monthly police statistics because investigations typically take many months to close. The latest annual report covers finalised data from 2007-2014, and other findings include:
• One in 10 homicides involved firearms, with just over half of homicide victims not killed with weapons, and 24 per cent with a stabbing or cutting weapon.
• More than a third of all female victims were killed by their partner.
• Overall, 65 per cent of victims were male, and this gender gap has widened - 67 per cent of victims were male in 2014, compared to 57 per cent in 2007.
• The number of homicide victims is stable at between 62 and 64 for each of the last four years.
• Of the 538 homicide victims, 174 were manslaughter cases and 364 murders.
Law and order is a key issue in election year, with Labour and New Zealand First calling for more police officers and resourcing.
Responding to rising crime rates and public concern about crime such as burglary, in February the Government announced a $503 million package to boost police officer numbers by 880 over four years. Those numbers include 140 extra specialist investigators for child protection, sexual assault, family violence and other serious crime.
Legislation before Parliament will also overhaul how family violence is dealt with, including the creation of new offences, making the safety of victims a principal consideration in all bail decisions, and allowing others to apply for a protection order on a victim's behalf.
Labour's police spokesman Stuart Nash said they were steps in the right direction, but greater police resourcing was still needed, and the crucial point was to get officers back out into the community.
"We know, for example, in Hamilton you will have 101 more police. But we don't know if they are going to be stuck in the head office, in community police stations or how they will operate," Nash said.
"If you go back to the Kahui twins, at the funeral for those two boys you had a hall that was absolutely packed out. But where were those people when that mother and father needed support from the community?
"I would argue if there were community cops operating in a way that was meaningful and beneficial...then someone would have said to them, 'shivers, we have a real problem here'."
Anne Tolley, Acting Police Minister and co-chair of the Ministerial Group on Family Violence and Sexual Violence, said the Government had prioritised family violence.
"Nearly half of all homicides in New Zealand are the result of family violence. We have ministers from across 16 portfolios working together on a whole of government strategy to address both family and sexual violence."
That work includes "integrated safety response" pilot programmes in Christchurch and Waikato, that have helped more than 24,000 people to date, Tolley said. About $1.5 billion is invested each year in the family violence and sexual violence sectors.
Child death cases in recent years include Nia Glassie, who was 3 when she died from head injuries in 2007. Nia's mother Lisa Kuka was convicted of manslaughter, and her boyfriend Wiremu Curtis and his brother Michael were found guilty of murder.
In 2015 Moko Sayviah Rangitoheriri, 3, was taken to Taupo Hospital with critical injuries. He died before medical staff could arrange his transfer to Starship Hospital. Tania Shailer and David Haerewa were jailed for 17 years after pleading guilty to manslaughter. Shailer was a friend of Moko's mother Nicola Dally-Paki.