About 200 people gathered on Wednesday night in Flaxmere to hold karakia for Kelly Donner, who died outside the Flaxmere Tavern on Sunday night following an attack.

Tears were shed and candles were lit as residents remembered a man who was known by many.

The crowd was largely dressed in black and were not deterred by the rain at the tragic scene as night fell.

Police have publicly identified the man as 40-year-old Kelly Alex Donner from Opotiki.

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Donner was a familiar sight in the local community.

The local father, son, uncle and friend to many and was simply known by his first name to those he interacted with on a daily basis.

It is believed that he worked at Crasborn Group Ltd on Omahu Rd, Hastings and also volunteered at New World helping to return trolleys.

Nolan Taitapanui, outside New World Flaxmere, was a friend of Kelly Donner and said Kelly was like a younger brother to him. Photo / Warren Buckland.
Nolan Taitapanui, outside New World Flaxmere, was a friend of Kelly Donner and said Kelly was like a younger brother to him. Photo / Warren Buckland.

Local resident Nolan Taitapanui said he was like a younger brother to him.

"He was a good mate of mine and I am very pissed off what has happened to him."

Another woman who did not wish to be named said although she didn't know him personally, she had heard that he was a very gentle and humble man.

"He would never pass by without saying hello."

A Flaxmere man, who knew him well, remembered Mr Donner fondly.

"He was still like a friend to me. He was just an ordinary person. We would chat on a daily basis in passing and ask how each other's day was going."

On Sunday night, as the man was leaving his job for the evening, a woman ran to him screaming and ushering him to follow her to where his friend lay.

"When I did find him I knew who he was straight away. It is so raw and it is only early days.

"It sort of freaked me out. I have never been in a situation in my security career to witness an event like this.

"I do security so I am trying to help keep our community safe. This is my community, I have kids that live here and I am trying to keep this place safe for our future."

Manager of Flaxmere's St Vincent de Paul, George David, remembers assisting Kelly Donner with food parcels. Photo / Warren Buckland.
Manager of Flaxmere's St Vincent de Paul, George David, remembers assisting Kelly Donner with food parcels. Photo / Warren Buckland.

St Vincent De Paul store manager, George David, said it was too close to home.

Back in 2014 he assisted him with food parcels and remembers seeing him around.

"I was shocked go hear what happened to him. I just spoke to him last week."

A local woman, who did not wish to be named had fond memories of him and was "shocked" to hear of his tragic death.

"I never knew his name. I only knew him for the past two months and he was a primo guy".

Whenever she would see him, she would shout out "bro" and he would affectionately reply with "sis".

"He was a good guy to talk to. It is awful".

A local resident said it was certainly a shock. "No one deserves to go like that".

He remembered seeing him around new world and said he seemed like a nice guy.

A tribute on social media described Donner as an "innocent hard working man who was at the wrong place...he had very little belongings but a very big heart he always had a lending hand...if you [offenders] knew the pain he hid behind his smile his laugh his singing his attitude I bet you would have not done what you have done, such a horrible crime".

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