Lying outside stargazing with her older brother was the memory she had of him, not as a patched gang member and enforcer, the emotional sister of Lance Wayne Waite has testified.

Tania Maria Paki, a teacher, was the first of more than 80 Crown witnesses to give evidence in the trial of two men charged after Waite's death in Tauranga on January 3, 2018.

Tauranga man Colin Richard Jeffries-Smith, 28, pleaded not guilty to murdering Waite when the trial began in the High Court at Rotorua on Monday.

Casino Heta Williams, 51, has denied being an accessory after the fact of Waite's murder and unlawfully possessing a Ruger .22 semi-automatic rifle.

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It's the Crown's contention Waite died when he was shot twice in the back by Jeffries-Smith at The Trap, outwardly a cluttered pawn shop but a well-known drug dealing centre in Tauranga's Gate Pā.

The shots were fired in the wake of a soured deal, Tauranga Crown solicitor Anna Pollett argued yesterday.

Police at the scene where Lance Wayne Waite, 58, was shot dead at Wilrose Place in Gate Pa on January 3, 2018. Photo / File
Police at the scene where Lance Wayne Waite, 58, was shot dead at Wilrose Place in Gate Pa on January 3, 2018. Photo / File

Paki gave evidence this morning after the defendants' lawyers had briefly opened their cases.

Mark Edgar, acting for Jeffries-Smith, urged the jury not to let references they'd hear relating to drug use and dealing cloud their assessment about what the trial was really about – the charge of murder.

"The drugs are only background information, this is a trial about whether my client intentionally or recklessly killed Lance Waite," he said.

One feature that would repeatedly pulse through the evidence were allegations that intimidations and threats regularly occurred.

Edgar cautioned the jury against being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the Crown's 86 witnesses, advising them to keep their views fluid and focused as they tracked through the evidence of what he called "this developing story".

"January 3 was the fateful day when events occurred between the two people central to the trial, the accused and the deceased. It is the relationship between these two men which is at the heart of this trial."

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Edgar emphasised the Crown's evidence would show that Jeffries-Smith readily admitted at the first opportunity that he had fired two bullets.

"There is no controversy about that, the question before you is why?

"It is my case to you that at its highest the prosecution's case against Colin Jeffries-Smith is one of manslaughter not murder."

Colin Richard Jeffries-Smith (left) and Casino Heta Williams appear in the High Court at Rotorua in relation to the murder of Lance Waite at Gate Pā, Tauranga in January 2018. Photo / NZME
Colin Richard Jeffries-Smith (left) and Casino Heta Williams appear in the High Court at Rotorua in relation to the murder of Lance Waite at Gate Pā, Tauranga in January 2018. Photo / NZME

Casino Williams' lawyer, John Holmes, told the jury the critical issue relating to the charges against his client was his knowledge of relevant events and whether he actually knew about anything that had happened during the critical days between January 1-6, 2018.

He urged them to direct themselves to the wording of Williams' charges.

"If a mate buys a SIM card for a mate does he become an accessory after the fact, of murder, or similarly providing a mate with clothing?" Holmes queried.

He asked jurors to concentrate and listen to everything they would hear during the coming six weeks, focus on issues surrounding Williams' charges and stick to the particulars relating to them.

Paki outlined how her brother, 13 years older than herself, had moved from the Hauraki area to Taranaki in his teenage years, returning as a patched member of the Mongrel Mob's Notorious chapter.

Waite had regularly been in and out of jail always returning to the family home near Paeroa, a Black Power stronghold.

Lance Wayne Waite, 58, was shot dead at Wilrose Place in Gate Pā on January 3, 2018. Photo / Supplied
Lance Wayne Waite, 58, was shot dead at Wilrose Place in Gate Pā on January 3, 2018. Photo / Supplied

There and in Gisborne he'd had confrontations with Williams, a Black Power supporter.

She acknowledged knowing there was tension and rivalry between the two gangs.

Paki wept as she described her brother being a different person in his home and family environment where he didn't wear or keep his gang colours or patch.

"We would lie outside looking up at the stars, he'd talk to me about them," she testified through tears.

Questioned by Edgar, Paki said she understood her brother was his gang chapter's sergeant-at-arms.

Probed whether this meant he had an enforcer's role, Paki said she took it he had a certain level of authority within the gang.

When Holmes put it to her Waite was a tough man she responded that he tended to shy away from confrontations.

The trial, which is before Justice Mark Woolford, is continuing.