The family of a Taranaki man who died in police custody say they will be at the trial of the officers accused of his manslaughter.

The three officers only made a brief appearance in court and were remanded without plea yesterday but the man's Australian-based family say they will make the trip over the ditch if the case heads to trial.

The officers charged with manslaughter were granted interim name suppression and remanded on bail to appear in the High Court at New Plymouth on June 26.

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The charges relate to the man who was taken into custody after a family harm incident in Hawera late on May 31, last year.

During a routine cell check he was found unresponsive and a volunteer fire crew was called to assist the ambulance at the police station about 2.30am.

Police staff performed CPR until the ambulance arrived.

Paramedics tried to resuscitate him for more than 30 minutes before he was pronounced dead.

The charges allege that the officers were grossly negligent in their duty of care to the victim and that this negligence was a causal factor in his death.

When asked about the officers getting charged, one of the man's Australian-based sisters told the Herald "it's been a long battle and our brother's death has affected a lot of people".

"We have been fighting for justice the whole time and it hasn't really given us a chance to grieve."

The woman said the fact the officers had been charged, a year on, had gone some way to helping them grieve.


She confirmed that if the case goes to trial, they would fly over for it.

Her brother was enjoying his life at the time of his death; the night prior he was talking to his boss about his 10 year plan.

"He was going to stay on the farm till he retired. They were like a second family to him."

Her brother was one of six siblings. One brother died in a car crash about 35 years ago, but the remaining crew remained tight.

Their parents had also earlier died.

They all kept in regular contact through facetime, especially once her brother moved to New Zealand about 25 years ago.

An older sister had recently visited him and was in the middle of planning another visit to Taranaki.

Her brother was also this year made a grandad; something he would have cherished, she said.

"He would have been the proudest grandad, he adored kids.

"He was a super proud dad, hard worker and known to most as the gentle giant. He often sang as he worked.

"We have great memories growing up in a large family and have always been very close. He was a great family man. He was the kind of guy who would go out of his way to help someone out. A very missed brother, father, uncle, cousin who was deprived of seeing his first born granddaughter."

Police said yesterday the decision to file charges was made after a thorough investigation and consideration of legal advice from the New Plymouth Crown Solicitor and a Queen's Counsel.

All three officers had been stood down and an employment process would follow in due course.

The New Zealand Police Association said it was supporting the three officers.

Association President Chris Cahill said the officers were members of the association and as such they were entitled to legal and welfare support.

Cahill said it was important to note that there was "absolutely no suggestion that the death was the result of any physical or violent confrontation between the officers and the deceased".

"Any death of a person in police custody is a tragic situation for the family of the deceased and in this case, for the officers involved and their families," he said.