An Auckland man shot in the head during an execution-style slaying "admired" the gang which allegedly ordered the hits on him and his wife, a court has heard.

Epalahame Tu'uheava and his wife Yolanda (Mele) Tu'uheava were both shot several times on April 30 last year in Māngere.

Tu'uheava, a 28-year-old father also known as Hame or Abraham, died within minutes.

But Yolanda survived by playing dead, despite being shot twice in the head with a revolver.


The court has heard that the hits on the couple may have been ordered from leaders of the Comanchero Motorcycle Club in Australia.

Police charged three men with murder and attempted murder, two of whom - Fisilau Tapaevalu and Mesui Tufui - are on trial in the High Court at Auckland this week.

Viliami Taani, a Comanchero member described by Yolanda as the "main guy", pleaded guilty last week to both murder and attempted murder.

Today, with a bullet still lodged in her head which was wrapped in a scarf, Yolanda testified in the trial.

She did so via video link from an undisclosed location.

Epalahame Tu'uheava. Photo / Facebook
Epalahame Tu'uheava. Photo / Facebook

Yolanda began by speaking of how she and her husband moved from South Auckland to Sydney in 2014 to be more financially stable while raising a young child.

The pair lived in Australia until 2017, but while there, Yolanda explained, her truck driving husband also developed a close association to the leadership of the Australian Nomads gang.

Yesterday, Crown prosecutor Claire Robertson said Tu'uheava had became a patched member of the gang while living in Australia.


Even after returning to South Auckland, Tu'uheava's contact with the Australian Nomads continued through social media, Yolanda added.

But Tu'uheava also began to notice a new gang developing a foothold in New Zealand - the Comancheros - Yolanda said.

"I guess he admired them," she said.

"I noticed he was watching these videos of the Comos with their bikes, all these flash things that they had, so he was trying to find a way to get a hold of them.

"He admired the material stuff they had."

Fisilau Tapaevalu is charged with murder and attempted murder. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Fisilau Tapaevalu is charged with murder and attempted murder. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Yolanda said her husband made contact with the Comanchero gang and maintained communications with them on social media.

During her opening address yesterday, Robertson said Tu'uheava also began selling methamphetamine after returning to New Zealand.

Yolanda said she suspected her husband was involved in drug dealing when she found a bag full of cash as the couple travelled back from a trip to Invercargill.

There was some $48,000 in the carry-on bag, while $15,000 was in another bag, the court heard.

"You don't make that much driving [a] truck. It had to be something dodgy he was doing," Yolanda said.

Tu'uheava also told his wife he could make $50,000 a week but never said what type of drug he was selling, she said.

His connections led him to take the cash to what he thought was a meeting involving "some new guys" who were associates of the Comancheros, the court heard.

The group met Tu'uheava and his wife at a McDonald's before they later drove to Greenwood Rd in Māngere.

"They executed him," Robertson said.

Tu'uheava was shot along Greenwood Rd at least seven times, including three times in the head with a .22 calibre semi-automatic rifle.

Yolanda, who had begged the men for forgiveness, was shot at least four times, including twice in the head, Robertson said.

She only survived, the prosecutor added, by playing dead before being discovered by a passing motorist.

"By some miracle [Yolanda] was still alive," Robertson said.

Mesiu Tufui, pictured on the first day of his trial in the High Court at Auckland. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Mesiu Tufui, pictured on the first day of his trial in the High Court at Auckland. Photo / Jason Oxenham

In a May raid last year, police found the revolver and rifle at a Te Atatu property.

While recovering in hospital, Yolanda also identified Taani and Tufui as her offenders from a police photoboard, Detective Sergeant Tamaru Anderson told the court yesterday.

Tufui's lawyer Paul Borich QC, however, has told the jury Yolanda made a mistake when identifying the alleged perpetrators.

He said Tufui wasn't on Greenwood Rd at the time of the shootings.

Sam Wimsett, Tapaevalu's counsel, said while his client accepted he was at the scene he "didn't do anything" and the decision to shoot the couple was Taani's.

Tapaevalu has earlier admitted to possessing the rifle and revolver.

He has also pleaded guilty to drugs charges.

Robertson said while it may never be known why the couple were shot it "appears there was some bad blood between the Comancheros and Tu'uheava."

The trio of defendants had been given the "green light to kill", Robertson added.

In his police interview, Tufui also said there was a "guy who's making money off the Como name and we're going to put him to sleep."

The trial continues.