The Coroner's Report on the death of a South Auckland homeless man on a Onehunga park bench in the winter of 2017 has concluded his death was related to alcohol abuse.

Keith Johnson, 57, died on "his bench" in the cemetery of St Peter's Anglican Onehunga overnight on July 1, due to what the coroner said was internal bleeding related to alcohol abuse.

His death, and the death of another homeless person a fortnight later in Manurewa, Haami Manahi, was labelled a national shame at the time.

Many working in the community expressed their frustration at his death and the growing numbers of homeless in New Zealand.


Vicar at the St Peter's Onehunga Anglican Church, Petra Zaleski, said Johnson's death had saddened his family, the congregation and his friends from the street.

She said there were few, if any, resources for people like him with deeply entrenched issues with alcohol.

"It's fundamentally a health issue.

"There are no facilities that can meet the needs for people like that."

However, Zaleski said Johnson was more than just your alcoholic, homeless stereotype.

"He was a complex character, intelligent and a thoughtful man that cared about other people."

The coroner's findings, released to the Herald today, showed Johnson's direct cause of death was a gastrointestinal haemorrhage, from oesophagitis that was linked to alcohol abuse.

"Mr Johnson essentially drank every day to his detriment and made regular presentations to A&E for alcohol-related complaints," wrote Coroner Brandt Shortland.

"He suffered severe cirrhosis, hepatitis C; and alcohol dependency which contributed to his death."

The report also detailed the final hours of the father-of-two's life.

The evening before he was found, Johnson was said to have been drinking with a couple of friends, Atanas Kulin and Hemi, on the park bench by St Peter's Anglican Church at around 6:30.

His two friends left him to continue on with their night at the local RSA leaving him on the bench by himself.

At about 7:30 another friend, Cary Allen, walked past and noticed Johnson was sitting alone at the park bench on his own, with his head looking down.

He could not be roused.

At 10pm one of the friends who had been drinking with him earlier, Kulin, left the RSA and noticed he was still asleep, snoring, so placed a blanket over him.

At 1am another friend, Cedric Snowden, saw what appeared to be bleeding from Johnson's face, and a bloodied right eye.

When he felt Johnson's arm it was cold, and so he called on Allen for help before police were called.

Police confirmed there were no suspicious or untoward circumstances surrounding Johnson's death.

Shortland said his inquiries together with police showed that Johnson died of "natural causes".