An Ōpōtiki man whose 2016 death is now being treated as a homicide has been described as eccentric by the town's mayor.

New information received by police has seen the investigation into the death of Brian Albert Hilton reopened.

Eastern Bay of Plenty CIB officers returned to Ōpōtiki this week to revisit the case.

On July 7, 2016 Hilton was admitted to Tauranga Hospital with facial injuries from what was believed at the time to be a fall in his home.

He died six days later aged 77.


Eastern area manager Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Standen said police had recently received new information and as a result were reopening the investigation and treating Hilton's death as a homicide.

"Eastern Bay of Plenty Police are absolutely determined to hold the person who committed this extremely serious crime to account, and bring this case to a conclusion."

Ōpōtiki mayor John Forbes said he recalled the police investigation into Hilton's death and said, at the time, police had met with him in his role as mayor and said, as far as they could ascertain, a fall had contributed to his death.

He said both he and then Prime Minister John Key were often on the receiving end of text messages from Hilton.

Hilton's last Facebook post was addressed to mayor Forbes.

In it Hilton promised to "quit being so mean" and "save the kiwifruit industry".

Forbes said he hoped those who may be responsible for Hilton's death were held accountable.

"I have to admit a message from Mr Hilton often used to make me smile. Knowing he was also sending them to the Prime Minister made me wonder how often the leaders of our country receive messages from people, I can imagine they would be inundated."


Ōpōtiki District Councillor Barry Howe also described Hilton as "a bit of an eccentric".

"He claimed himself to be a scientist and a professor although I'm not sure he was either."

Attempts have been made to contact Hilton's family.