Four teenagers have appeared in court after being arrested in relation to the death of Kelly Donner in Flaxmere almost two weeks ago.
The youths, aged between 14 and 16, appeared in the Hastings Youth Court before Judge Max Courtney this afternoon charged with wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
The three males and one female, who cannot be named, were each supported by family members who sat in the public gallery.
The female was granted bail and the males remanded in custody to next appear on March 21.
Detective Senior Sergeant Marty James said police were seeking a fifth youth in connection with Donner's death on March 4.
Further charges were likely, he said, and urged anyone with knowledge about Donner's death to come forward. "Any threats or intimidating behaviour towards witnesses will not be tolerated and we will ensure that such complaints are investigated."
Donner died in Flaxmere on March 4. He wasfound in the carpark of the Flax Bar and Eatery in Swansea Rd, next to the Flaxmere Village Shopping Centre, the bar historically known as the Flaxmere Tavern.
Locals have paid tribute to the 40-year-old, and said the arrests will help the community move on after a fortnight of angst. However they urged something needed to be done to address the wider problem surrounding his death.
Hastings District Flaxmere councillor Henare O'Keefe said the police had taken their time with the arrests, but "amidst the anger and angst and frustration, we needed to let due process take its course."
"A life has been taken, a glorious humble life at that.
"It's horrific, it's sad. If [the arrests] didn't happen, if it wasn't brought to the surface Flaxmere would be constantly looking over its shoulder," he said.
"In some ways, we've got closure."
The ages of those charged would split the community, O'Keefe said, as a large number of residents "just want utu, want revenge".
"But there's the other populace that say, what's really at the heart of it? How do we prevent stupid acts like this taking place?
"There's no guarantee, but one thing I do know good parenting will go a long way to alleviating that angst. If we don't have good parenting, our children don't stand a chance."
He said residents initially "circled the wagons, battened down the hatches", but soon decided not to let the death change their daily lives.
"We've got to live our lives as per normal, that's the way to confront a catastrophe such as this."
Flaxmere St Vincent de Paul manager George David paid tribute to Mr Donner, who used to come into the second hand shop often, and received help to arrange for food parcels.
The manager said these arrests would bring some closure to Mr Donner's family, and the wider community.
"But something needs to be done for the future as well, to protect people. People aren't safe out here.
"We've had a lot of problems with youths out here in the past, and it seems to be quite prolific."