The wife of a man who died while trying to stop a fight has praised him as a man of faith and action.

Richard Tairua, 59, died outside his Manurewa home in the early hours of Saturday morning.

It is believed he had gone outside to help stop a fight among youngsters on the street.

Police found him unconscious and attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.


Police initially treated Mr Tairua's death as suspicious but yesterday said a post-mortem examination showed that he had died of natural causes.

Last night family and friends of the man known to many as a "gentle giant" gathered at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Manukau to remember him.

His wife Denise, wearing a simple black dress and a silver brooch, spoke proudly of a quiet man who she called "my sweetheart".

"My husband - he was a man of action, not of words. And the night that he left to be with our heavenly father, that's what he did," she said.

There were tears as Mr Tairua's coffin - draped in a brown-feathered korowai (cloak) - was brought in by his children and grandchildren, who held hands.

Family members clutched each other and cried.

Mr Tairua had been married to his second wife for almost seven years, after meeting at church.

Mrs Tairua drew laughter from the congregation when she spoke about the first time they met.


"I went to kiss him on the cheek to say hello and all of a sudden, it's a full-on smack kiss on the lips," she smiled.

The congregation heard about his love for fishing and outdoor activities, of playing cards with his grandchildren and his deep love of God.

Mr Tairua's eldest mokopuna, granddaughter Fantasia Tairua-Bracken, gave a tearful eulogy about a man she called "koro" but who she had always looked up to as a father.

"I will miss your cuddles and your love, koro. I know it was your time to go, but I wish it was done another way.

"Although your heart has given up, I can still feel it beating in my own ... I love you koro."

Mrs Tairua thanked the congregation and members of the public for the love and support that the family had been given.

The family will travel today to Pipiwai, before a tangi for Mr Tairua will be held on Wednesday.