At 14 years old Haami Hanara has become one of New Zealand's youngest convicted of murder. Hawke's Bay Today reporter Doug Laing gets an insight through the family at court.

A teenage cousin reckons Haami Hanara is not a bad boy — even if he was just 14 years, two months and one week when he stabbed 40-year-old Kelly Donner.

Rough sleeper Kelly Donner was fatally stabbed near the Flaxmere Tavern in March this year. Photo / Supplied
Rough sleeper Kelly Donner was fatally stabbed near the Flaxmere Tavern in March this year. Photo / Supplied

To make the point, she's looking for another photo on her phone to use instead of the single image the judge allowed media to take on the opening morning of the boy's High Court trial in Napier this week.

He's got a cream-coloured jacket over a T-shirt, but she wishes the photo could have been taken the next day when "Haams" scrubbed-up better in a new dark blue, spotted shirt and brown trousers.

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His stepmum's dad, a large man who always wanted Haami to tell the truth, has watched the story of what happened as Haami was with friends out stealing on the night of March 4, targeting alcohol in a compound at the rear of the Flax Bar and Eatery, on the perimeter of the Flaxmere Village Centre and otherwise known as the Flaxmere Tavern.

He's always wanted the boy to tell the truth. He knows him as a handsome and talented, short young lad, who grew-up around Omahu, on the State Highway 50 route between Napier and Hastings, and who was pretty good with motorbikes and horses.

"He could be really good at motocross," he says, revealing there's a cousin who's nationally recognised. "Haami's better than him."

Hanara went to the bi-lingual school at Omahu, where the family name is know more in education and sporting circles. He then went to Kimi-Ora in Flaxmere and finally Flaxmere College, albeit lasting just a couple of weeks.

While he never stood a chance, one family member says afterward, they can see where things went wrong. His dad was talented too, was a contractor working in the bush, but somehow he got tied up with the gang.

One has tears welling as it's related how he was once sent to Murupara where he received a beating.

That was just a few months before Kelly Donner was stabbed.

Locals paid tribute with a memorial near the scene Kelly Donner was murdered in Flaxmere. Photo / File
Locals paid tribute with a memorial near the scene Kelly Donner was murdered in Flaxmere. Photo / File

In the melee, Donner received three stab wounds, one of them 10.5cm deep in the neck severing of an artery, which pathologist Dr Thambirajah Balachandra would say would cause death in 3-5 minutes.

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Ultimately, a jury convicted Haami of murder, deciding he stabbed him with intent to kill or cause injury that was likely to result in death. The law determines some aged 14 is capable of having such intent.

Only three younger have been convicted of the ultimate crime, although none with the notoriety of Bailey Junior Kurariki, aged 12 when he and at least eight other teenagers and young adults were involved in the robbery of a pizza delivery boy in Papakura in 2001.

Kurariki has been forever dubbed the country's youngest killer, although his role was lookout during a fatal assault for which two were convicted of murder.

Haami's dad's father, is over from Brisbane, with his daughter, when he hears of the trial in progress and spends more than two days — "he's feeling it bad," says one of the others.

His daughter, talking of working up to seven days a week in Australia, and the problems families have, and those of young ones growing up, relents: "Everything has changed. But that's the way it is."