Family of a man gunned down after leaving a 40th birthday party at Maketu say he was a man "always there for his mates".

Isaac Dale Bushell, 46, was found dead in a park at Beach Rd after leaving a party nearby about 1.45am yesterday.

Police have arrested a 19-year-old Maketu man who will appear in Tauranga District Court today charged with murder.

The accused teen was arrested after police stopped a vehicle he was a passenger in.


Mr Bushell's body was kept at the cordoned-off scene most of yesterday as police carried out forensic examinations and other inquiries in the area.

A post-mortem examination will be carried out today in Auckland and the body will likely be returned to the family late today or tomorrow, one of Mr Bushell's relatives told the Bay of Plenty Times.

The man, who asked not to be named, said the family was "completely shocked and devastated" by the death.

"He [Isaac] was a good bloke, he was always out for a bit of fun.

"He had his good and bad parts, like everyone does, but he had a good heart and he was always there for his mates if they needed him.

"We woke up to the news that he was dead and I think it will be days before it really sinks in.

"This is one of those things you read about in the newspaper or see on TV, the sort of thing that happens to other families, not to us and not here in Maketu.

"This is our peaceful little paradise." Another Maketu resident, Chantal Moses, told the Bay of Plenty Times the accused and Mr Bushell were well known in the beachside town.

She said the whole town was "gutted" by what had happened.

"Maketu has its problems, sure, but this is a close-knit community and a lot of locals were at that party.

"I know of both the guys involved and I just can't believe this has happened."

A woman, who only wanted to be known as Jess, was drinking at the party along with the two men and said she thought she had heard gunshots yesterday morning but had shrugged it off.

"I figured it was just fireworks or something," she said.

"The party did get pretty messy, it was Crate Day [an annual drinking promotion by The Rock radio station] so we were all having a few too many, as you do.

"Next minute we heard the sirens going and then Isaac turns up dead. It was crazy.

"Maketu is one of those towns where nothing ever happens, people come here for some peace and quiet and the great pies.

"Now it's all murder in Maketu." One man who spoke on the condition he was not named told the Bay of Plenty Times a large group of Maketu locals had gone to the party for a local woman who had terminal cancer.

"It was her 40th," he said.

"And she has been told she is not going to last too much longer so there was heaps of people there to have a drink for her.

"Also, it was Crate Day so everyone was pretty messy."

Police are still keen to hear from anyone with information about this death.

They particularly want to hear from anyone who heard any gunshots who may be able to assist with the exact time of the incident.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Tauranga Police on 07 577 4300.

Information can also be provided anonymously to the organisation Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.