A memorial for slain Flaxmere man Kelly Donner has been torched, re-opening wounds in a community which continues to grieve for him.

Wilted flowers, along with a scorched taonga, and other burnt tributes, are all that is left of what was community's gesture to Donner at the site where he died on the green outside the Flax Bar and Eatery on Swansea Rd.

 Kelly Donner.
Kelly Donner.

Donner was found dead in March, 2018. Four teenagers, three males and a female appeared in Youth Court over his death and 15-year-old Haami Hanara was found guilty of his murder in the High Court at Napier late in 2018.

As a 14-year-old, Hanara stabbed the 40-year-old four times with a knife - twice in the neck, once in the chest and another time in the shoulder.

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Haami Hanara.
Haami Hanara.

Emergency services were called to the "smouldering" memorial at 3.45am last Thursday.

Fire and Emergency NZ Hawke's Bay area commander Ken Cooper said one fire truck was used to put out the blaze.

He said it was an "unlawful, deliberately lit fire" and has been handed over to police for further investigation.

A police spokeswoman said a dog unit attended at the time, but no arrests had yet been made.

Shrine behind Flaxmere Tavern for Kelly Donner.
Shrine behind Flaxmere Tavern for Kelly Donner.

Jocelyn Peachey, who had a child with Donner, was first notified of the incident on Sunday by her parents, who visit the site regularly.

They believe "somebody poured petrol over it and set it on fire".

She says she is "hurt, angry and disgusted".

"The site is sacred and special to me and my family.

"This has broken my heart and upset me and other family. I want to know why anyone would do it. He's gone and still can't rest in peace."

Peachey says a white rose, which symbolises their late daughter, was put on the site so they could "be together" was among the items damaged.

Kaumatua Moewaka Hinepare said it should "never have happened".

She plans to call a community meeting to discuss what to do next.

Detective Senior Sergeant Marty James was not aware of the incident, as he is currently out of the region, but suggested it was likely a "senseless act of vandalism" rather than a motivated attack.

"It is total disrespect for Kelly."