A 16-year-old boy made a brief appearance in court today charged with murder, following the stabbing of a promising rugby league player in Auckland at the weekend.
Luke Tipene, 17, died after a brawl involving up to 40 people erupted outside a Grey Lynn house during a party on Saturday night.
A post-mortem examination found Luke suffered a fatal stab wound, understood to be to his neck.
A teen appeared in Auckland Youth Court this morning charged with Luke's murder.
Statutory suppression orders mean details of the defendant are automatically suppressed.
He stood in the dock showing no emotion as several family members struggled to hold back their sobbing in the public gallery.
The teen was remanded in custody until November 19 when he will appear in the High Court at Auckland.
As he was led away family shouted messages of love and support.
Judge Tony Fitzgrald said a bail application could be brought on before that date if his lawyer wished.
Detective Inspector Scott Beard said the fatal assault occurred around 12:15am.
"It is a tragedy that a young man has lost his life in circumstances like these, during an incident which really should not have happened.
"Ultimately this one incident has left the families of two young men devastated."
Vodafone Warriors academy and pathways manager Duane Mann said Mr Tipene had taken part in the Warriors' development system and was contracted to the Warriors' National Youth Competition squad next
"To lose someone so young with so much talent is terrible.
"This is awful for Luke's family as well as all of us at the club," Mr Mann said. "We're absolutely devastated and are all trying to come to terms with what has happened. We held Luke in the highest regard. He was a player with real ability who was just starting out on his dream of becoming a professional rugby league player."
A hooker or loose forward, Mr Tipene played for the Glenora Bears and won the Auckland Rugby League's Under-17 player of the year award.
He was also selected for the New Zealand Maori Under-17 side and was named in the New Zealand Under-17 merit team.
The Warriors said Mr Tipene was educated at Nga Kakano o te Kaihanga Kura in Henderson, and was fluent in Te Reo.
Police said people with potential information about the homicide could contact Auckland City Police on 09 302 6400 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
A close family friend of slain rugby league star Luke Tipene says the 17-year-old had been shopping at Henderson's night market and went to pick up a friend when he was attacked and stabbed in the neck.
Sean Wilson said Luke went to collect a friend in Grey Lynn, arriving at midnight on Friday, where he was confronted by a large group of people from a nearby Halloween party.
"He doesn't drink, doesn't smoke. He's never done that," Mr Wilson said.
"He's a protector. He went to pick up his friend ... Luke had no idea who these people were."
Mr Wilson said the family had been left broken. Luke had taken over the mantle of "man of the house" since his father was found dead 12 years ago almost to the day.
"They've lost their father before ... And now he's been taken away from them. It's just a tragedy," Mr Wilson said.
Luke had taken over the mantle of "man of the house" since his father was found dead almost to the day 12 years ago.
On November 5, 2002, the body of Christopher Tipene, 33, was found in bush behind a local school. He had gone missing more than five weeks earlier but police ruled out suspicious circumstances.
Luke is survived by his mother Terry, twin sister Kristina, sisters Shawn, 19, Davina, 24, and Waikeri, 7.
• How to help the Tipene family: http://www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/givealittleforluke Donations can also be made to Glenora Rugby League: 12-3039-0392180-50 Reference: LUKE
- additional reporting NZME. News Service