Family of a Hamilton grandfather killed alongside another man in Samoa believe they were the victims of an opportunistic theft "gone horribly wrong".

Alesana Satele, 69, had landed in Samoa on Thursday afternoon but he, and a 42-year-old Samoan man, were brutally killed just hours later by a man using a machete or large knife.

Police believe the men were killed just after 7am but it's unclear how long their bodies had lain there before emergency services arrived. Family were informed about three hours later.

The grandfather of 12 had flown to his wife's family property for a short holiday and was due to return to spend Christmas with one of his daughters in Christchurch.

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But now all four of his daughters are in Samoa, with their mother, organising to bring him home.

The murder took place on the property owned by the wife of Alesana Satele who was killed alongside a Samoan man early Friday morning in Leulumoega. Photo / Google
The murder took place on the property owned by the wife of Alesana Satele who was killed alongside a Samoan man early Friday morning in Leulumoega. Photo / Google

One of the daughters, who did not want to be named, told the Herald the family had since been told by police that their father's personal belongings were missing when they arrived at the scene.

Satele had arrived at village of Leulumoega, about 6km from Faleolo International Airport, the day before. He had arrived in Samoa having withdrawn his pension of $1000 tala [$567] which was in his wallet.

The 42-year-old family friend had hired the alleged murderer to help him do some odd jobs around the property.

The family had been told by Samoan police the cash could have been a motive for the killing as not only had his wallet been taken but also his passport and other items from the family home.

They had also been told by other locals that the accused was "possibly high on P" at the time.

Satele and the second victim suffered deaths described by police as "horrific" as they'd been told the injuries sustained were mostly likely carried out with use of a machete or large knife.

Satele was killed in the main fale while the younger man was killed in the umu area behind the cluster of buildings which made up the fale.

"My father was a hard worker who taught us the value of education, family and hard work," his daughter told the Herald. "He loved gardening and the property in Samoa reflected this."

The daughter flew over with her sisters and mother as soon as they heard the news on Saturday morning.

Satele's son-in-law, who also did not want to be named, said the killing "seems like an opportunistic burglary gone horribly wrong".

The family had been working on the property with the hope of turning it into a bed and breakfast as it boasted four guest houses, a main fale featuring a kitchen, along with another fale and shop.

Another family member believed Satele would have taken exception to the killer taking his money and stuck up for himself.

"[The alleged killer] has taken the cash or something and [Satele] has been like 'nah, that's mine, you can't take my stuff and it's escalated from there'. That seems the most plausible sort of thing."

Family members had spoken to other locals who'd told them the alleged killer was high on methamphetamine at the time.

Satele was a Kiwi citizen who had lived in New Zealand for 41 years.

A 24-year-old man from the village of Falefa has been charged with the murders of both men and is due in court next month.