An upset Far North family is struggling to understand why anyone would kill a child's pet chicken and leave its body hanging from their gate.
Cheeka the chicken was part of the Tatai family, on Mangonui's Colonel Mould Dr, for more than three years.
Cherie Tatai said the chook was her 8-year-old son Tohe's best mate. Cheeka had a pen but didn't like it so lived in a tree next to their deck instead.
The free range chicken was well known in the area and would occasionally invite itself in to a neighbour's house and take a seat on the couch in front of the TV.
Once when Cheeka went missing for the night it turned out the chicken had a sleep-over in a girl's bedroom down the road.
However, when Tatai went to feed the family's pets on Sunday morning she was horrified to see Cheeka hanging lifeless from the gate.
She bundled Tohe inside and went to investigate, finding that a chain had been wrapped tightly around its neck.
''She was a well-loved chook. For someone to do such a cruel thing, I just can't understand it.''
Tohe knew his pet had died but not how, she said.
''He's upset, he's had a few cries.''
The chicken's death has been reported to police.
If you know who is responsible call Constable Tim Murdock at the Mangonui station on 09 406 2060.