By Katie Todd for RNZ

The Prostitutes Collective says it's a tragedy five Christchurch sex workers have been killed in 15 years, including 34-year-old Bella Te Pania on New Year's Eve.

But Prostitutes Collective national coordinator Dame Catherine Healy wants the spotlight to be on the perpetrators of violence, rather than the victims.

READ MORE:
Man charged with murder after Waihi Beach firearms incident
Court appearance over Hamilton murder
Christchurch airport murder: Man appears in court
Waihi Beach murder accused appears in court

Advertisement

A man has been charged with Te Pania's murder, after she was found critically injured near Christchurch Airport and died a short time later.

However, police investigating her death are again appealing to the public for information which could help them piece together what happened.

Te Pania was found critically injured on Orchard Rd on December 31 but died a short time later.

Bella Te Pania has been identified as the woman who died in the early hours of December 31 near Christchurch International Airport. Photo / NZ Police
Bella Te Pania has been identified as the woman who died in the early hours of December 31 near Christchurch International Airport. Photo / NZ Police

In a statement, this evening, police said her cell phone - a black Huawei Y5 with a cracked touch screen and no cover - has not been located yet.

An appeal to the residents of Bryndwr was made by police for them to check their property for the mobile or for any other discarded items.

Anyone with information is urged to call police on 105, quoting file number 191231/9680.

Meanwhile, a 42-year-old man charged with murder is due to reappear in the Christchurch High Court on February 7.

While the man awaited his court appearance, Healy said she had been hearing about how much Te Pania meant to her friends and her whānau.

Advertisement

"She was also a volunteer with our organisation a number of years ago so there are people in our organisation who are outreach workers who are very deeply affected," she said.

After Te Pania's death and those of other sex workers, the wider community also had shown an outpouring of respect and support, Healy said.

However, she said that support needed to go further.

"It needs to go beyond times like this ... we should be examining what's happening in our society that contributes. Sex workers are a part of society and often there aren't very good attitudes towards sex workers," she said.

Although it can't be assumed the killer was a client, Healy said, perpetrators of violence were very often left out of the discussion.

"Let's not forget ... this is someone who committed violence against a sex worker. I think we need to remember that we have very violent people with whom we really have to work to make sure extreme violence doesn't occur," she said.

Other sex workers killed in the city since 2005 are Renee Duckmanton, Mellory Manning and Susie Sutherland, as well as another with name suppression.