The shell-shocked family of a 14-year-old found guilty of murder say the young teen is a "sweet kid".

A High Court jury today found Haami Hanara, 14, guilty of the murder of 40-year-old Flaxmere man Kelly Donner.

Hanara has been on trial since Monday in the High Court in Napier before a jury of seven women and five men, and Justice Peter Churchman.

The jury retired just after 12pm today, and delivered its guilty verdict at 3.35pm.

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Hanara's family called out "Love you, Haami" shortly after, and he left the courtroom facing Christmas Day - also his 15th birthday - behind bars after being remanded in custody until his sentencing on February 5 next year.

Outside court, Hanara's family spoke briefly with media and told reporters "we're all fairly shell-shocked at the moment".

Asked what sort of child Hanara was, a female relative said "he's a sweet kid".

She said Kelly Donner's death had been "an unspeakable tragedy for everyone".

An uncle of Hanara's said the teen was "a loving boy and I love him very much."

"He's just a nice young man ... I feel it's a waste to see what's happened, happen, at this time. That's his whole future ahead of him now, and that's been jeopardised."

The Donner and Hanara families kept a respectful distance throughout the trial.

Daymian Donner, Kelly's cousin, said it had been stressful sitting through the trial but the family got the result they were hoping for.

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"Everyone can now relax, but at the end of the day, the pain is still going to be there."

Hanara had pleaded not guilty to murdering Donner on March 4, near the Flaxmere Tavern.

The Crown alleged Hanara had stabbed Donner after an argument over a torch, and defence counsel Eric Forster had told the jury his client's defence would be that "Haami did not do it deliberately".

Hanara had then given evidence that he did not know how Donner was stabbed.

In his closing address, Forster, had referred the jury to a 33-second period on CCTV footage that had been presented as evidence.

Donner disappeared from the CCTV camera view, followed by Hanara who was holding a knife, then four other youths.

Kelly Donner, who died outside the Flaxmere Tavern on March 4.
Kelly Donner, who died outside the Flaxmere Tavern on March 4.

Hanara then returned back into view, knife still in hand. But it was no longer clean, it was red with blood.

"We accept that Donner died from the wound to his neck. What happened around the cause of that wound is particularly unclear, as we moved through the trial it's become more unclear," Forster said.

"We know he (Hanara) accepted that he had the knife beforehand and afterwards. I accept that he thinks that no one else possessed the knife. He couldn't say how the wounds were caused, there's no footage.

"The appropriate verdict is one of not guilty, but should you think that my client did stab Mr Donner, then the appropriate verdict would be manslaughter."

Crown prosecutor Steve Manning had said that although there were 33 seconds of uncertainty, three witnesses could still account for what happened during that time.

Manning addressed an encounter earlier in the trial, when one witness, also involved in the attack, told the Crown that they saw Hanara "punching" Donner in the "neck and shoulder area".

The witness was talking about the moment when Donner ran away with Hanara behind him.

It was not surprising that the witness did not know Hanara had a knife, Manning said.

"He had it in his pocket and up his sleeve at one stage."

Manning mentioned two other witnesses who also claimed they saw Hanara attack Donner with a knife.

"We know that when Kelly turned to run and had his back turned, he didn't have his carotid artery severed at that point, otherwise we would have seen blood spurting out.

"The defendant was right behind him and had a knife in his hand. We know 33 seconds later the defendant comes back later with the knife and there is blood on it."

Justice Churchman had told the jury it was important they left both "sympathy and prejudice" out of their deliberations.

"We know he (Donner) was a rough sleeper, we know there was evidence that he had smoked a cannabis cigarette two hours prior to death, you might feel prejudice against someone who is homeless, or empathetic."

"We know the defendant is only 14, you might feel sympathy or prejudice, these are not matters that should guide your verdict."

"All evidence needs to considered - not just some of it."