The victim of a brutal New Year's Eve assault, who died in Whangarei Hospital yesterday, was Kaitaia man Lee Rata.

Northland police made a fresh appeal for information surrounding what was believed to have been an unprovoked attack on the 35-year-old.

Mr Rata was found badly beaten in Bonnett Rd, Kaitaia, at 11pm on Thursday, and died yesterday afternoon in Whangarei Hospital's intensive care unit.

A homicide investigation, involving 15 police and forensics staff, has centred on a wedding function that was being held nearby at the time.


Police have searched several properties and a post-mortem is under way.

"Mr Rata received a severe beating and it must have been seen by someone," Northland Police district criminal investigations manager Detective Inspector Kevin Burke said.

"There were a number of people in the area at the time.

"Mr Rata's family are naturally grieving and we urge people who have information about what happened to come forward to police.

"This would help give the victim's family some form of closure."

Police want to hear from anyone who attended the party or earlier saw the victim, who at the time was wearing black shorts, a grey hooded sweatshirt and steel-capped work boots.

People can contact police on 09 408 6500 or anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.