It's supposed to be a time of happiness, peace and goodwill to all - but in the last few weeks, instead of Christmas cheer, New Zealand has been rocked by a series of brutal murders.

In the last month at least seven people have died at the hands of another, mostly as a result of a violent incident.

Murder charges have been laid in five cases and the alleged killers will now face the justice system.

The deaths have shocked and saddened people across the country - and the world.

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None of the murders are connected.

OPERATION GOURAMI

The most high-profile case has been the death of Grace Millane.

The British backpacker was murdered on the weekend of her 22nd birthday, just a day after arriving in Auckland as part of a year-long solo OE.

Millane was last seen going into a central Auckland hotel the night of December 1.

The 26-year-old man she went to the hotel with has been charged with murder and appeared in the Auckland District Court on Monday.

His name has been suppressed.

Grace Millane was murdered days after she arrived in Auckland. Photograph supplied
Grace Millane was murdered days after she arrived in Auckland. Photograph supplied

Police are still piecing together what happened to Millane in the last hours of her life.

Her body is expected to be released to her family this week so they can return her to the UK.

FLAT BUSH MOTHER SLAIN

Hours after Millane's alleged killer appeared in court, another woman lost her life after an incident involving a man she knew.

The 34-year-old was fatally wounded at her Flat Bush home on Monday night.

She was rushed to hospital, but did not survive the injuries.

It is understood her young son was in the house when she was violently attacked.

Soon after, a 33-year-old farmer contacted police claiming he was responsible.

He was located, arrested and charged with murder.

A suppression order prevents the Herald from publishing the name of the offender, accused or any specific details about how she died.

OPERATION EPOPEUS

Yesterday morning police also revealed they were investigating the death of a 50-year-old man in Sandringham.

The death was initially treated as unexplained but was upgraded to homicide after the post mortem.

A scene examination will continue today at the Calgary Road property where the man died.

Police said the victim has not yet been formally identified and investigators were still working to establish the full circumstances surrounding this death.

"We are following lines of enquiries and working hard to identify anyone responsible to ensure they are held to account," said Detective Inspector Aaron Pascoe.

"We want to hear from anyone who has any information at all which may assist our investigation.

"Finally we also want to hear from anyone who witnessed suspicious activity on Calgary Street before 7am on Tuesday morning."

OPERATION MAKTOUM

In nearby Mount Roskill, 21-year-old Rima Fernando Sikei died after he was stabbed during an incident on William Blofield Ave at 11pm on Friday.

A 32-year-old man has been charged with murder.

This photograph of murdered man Rima Sikei has been shared widely on Facebook with the hashtag #justiceforRima. Photograph/Facebook
This photograph of murdered man Rima Sikei has been shared widely on Facebook with the hashtag #justiceforRima. Photograph/Facebook

He is also facing two charges of attempted murder after he allegedly injured two other people in the alleged attack.

Police said they were called by a number of people to a fight in the street shortly before Sikei was killed.

Sikei's family and friends have posted tributes to him online and have changed their social media profile photographs to images of the slain man.

He was described as having "a big heart and influence" on those around him.

DEATH OF A YOUNG FATHER

The next day in Christchurch police began investigating the death of Shayne George Heappey, 25.

Heappey was admitted to Christchurch Hospital at about 11pm and died of his injuries shortly after.

Police and forensic specialists conducted an extensive examination of a vehicle that was believed to have dropped Heappey off at the hospital.

Soon after a 50-year-old man was charged with intent to cause grievousl bodily harm.

Court documents state the accused jointly offended with at least one other person.

The details of the accused are suppressed.

Police have not ruled out further or more serious charges.

Heappey's brother Marcus said his family did not know what led to the killing - or who was responsible.

He told Stuff he and his twin were due to celebrate their 26th birthday in a week's time.

"He lived life on the edge," he said.

"He wouldn't hurt a fly, but he was just a man that couldn't stand still and obviously got himself in a bit of strife on Saturday night."

MURDER IN PETONE

Francis Tyson, 71, was killed in his Petone home on November 30.

Police later confirmed he had been decapitated at the Jackson St property shortly before 10pm that night.

Days later Tyson's alleged killer appeared in the Hutt Valley District Court charged with murdering the pensioner with a weapon as well as unrelated charges of intentional damage and possession of non-approved psychoactive substances for supply.

The 41-year-old has interim name suppression.

A neighbour, who told theHerald he had been crying for days since the grisly death, said Tyson had been dealing synthetic drugs.

The neighbour said Tyson, who he knew only as "Frank" or "Frankie" was "an old pensioner" who had been dealing "synnies" to get by.

BABY GIRL KILLED, MAN CHARGED

On November 13 the first of the horrendous deaths occurred.

A 3-month-old baby girl died as a result of non-accidental injuries in Porirua.

A 22-year-old man has appeared in court facing charges of male assaults female and assault on a child.

"The investigation is still ongoing and police are working closely with the family of the deceased to ascertain further facts," said Detective Senior Sergeant Kevan Verry.

"This is a tragedy impacting on a large family group."

The police investigation into the baby's death continues.