A road rage incident sparked the violence that left a Kaikohe man dead, the High Court has revealed.

The second of two punches thrown at Kaikohe man Christopher Vujcich by an irate motorist who followed him home shortly after a minor traffic incident proved to be the killer blow.

Patrick Dennis Tarawa, 21, pleaded guilty last month to a charge of manslaughter and will be sentenced in the High Court at Whangārei today.

A copy of the summary of facts released to NZME by the court states Tarawa was at Mobil service station in Kaikohe about 9.30pm on January 19 this year with his pregnant partner, who was a passenger in the Subaru Legacy he was driving.

Christopher Vujcich died after being punched by Patrick Tarawa
Christopher Vujcich died after being punched by Patrick Tarawa

As Tarawa turned the car on to Purdy St, a white van driven by Vujcich cut across the right side of the Purdy St/Broadway intersection on to Tarawa's side of the road.

Tarawa had to apply the brakes to avoid a collision and beeped the horn. He then followed Vujcich to Kowhai St where the latter lived.

Both got out of their vehicles and had a verbal argument over the earlier incident near the service station.

Vujcich told his son, who was the front seat passenger in the van, to move their vehicle up the driveway of his house.

While both men were arguing, Tarawa's partner came out and told Vujcich to go and for her partner to "leave it" and to go with her.

Vujcich, 58, then pushed Tarawa in the chest.

As the woman turned around to walk back to her car after being told to do so by her partner, Tarawa threw a punch at Vujcich which grazed the left side of his head. He then followed it up with a second punch that connected with Vujcich's head.

Vujcich fell backwards and landed on the concrete footpath unconscious.


Tarawa got into his vehicle and drove away but returned a short time later with his partner and saw police cars at the scene.

He was stopped by police and arrested for a assault.

When emergency services arrived, Vujcich was unconscious and assessed to be in a life-threatening condition.

He had bruises and lacerations, including near his right eye, left shoulder and an indentation at the top of his head.

Vujcich was transported to the Bay of Islands Hospital in Kawakawa where his condition quickly deteriorated and he was placed on a ventilator.

He was taken off the ventilator and died at 12pm the next day.

A post mortem found he died from blunt force head injury, including bleeding to the base of the brain stem and large fractures to the skull. The injuries were unsurviveable. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment.