In a sombre room of the Flaxmere Community centre, locals gathered together to ask why - why one of their own was taken away from them so tragically and so abruptly.

About 50 people attended the event hosted by Flaxmere resident and Hastings district councillor Henare O'keefe.

It comes after Kelly Alex Donner died outside the Flaxmere Tavern on Sunday night after an attack.

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Mr O'keefe said there was a little bit of looking back in terms of regrets why something so tragic was able to happen but there was a general consensus that the community had to help bring the perpetrators to justice.

"We've got to look within, somebody knows someone and it is up to us to take ownership of that.

"At the end of the day, I am just so proud of the people that turned up. We've got to link arms, circle the wagons, be good parents and continue to put our homes in order."

He believed the community could only really move forward once the perpetrators handed themselves in.

"In terms of moving forward in this incident that won't really begin until the person responsible is brought to justice. There is somebody out there who has taken a life and someone out there knows who it is so until it is revealed and justice is prevailed I guess in some ways Flaxmere will keep looking over its shoulder."

Eastern District Police Commander Superintendent Tania Kura was asked by the community whether youth were involved in the attack to which she responded: "Tamariki. Yes."

Hastings district councillor Bayden Barber, Hastings district councillor and Hawke's Bay District Health Board board member Jacoby Poulain and Tukituki National MP Lawrence Yule attended.

Ms Poulain believed the community should "move forward no matter what".

"The community are going to and should move forward.

"The community need to do what's right in this situation to make our community safe again so they need to be co-operative and find a way that they can do that that keeps them safe as well."

She believed they needed a mix of "community solidarity and spirit to come together but also resourcing to help that and I don't think we can have one without the other".

"We have some really strong leaders in our community with really strong history with strong families, with their big hearts and brains and I am encouraged by what we can do in the community going forward. I am there just to help them do that."