An uncle has described the night his nephew Mitchell Te Kani died as "absolute mayhem" after 30 to 40 gang members allegedly burst into a family home.
Te Kani, 51, was described as a family-orientated man and while he had no children of his own, he loved his nieces and nephews and spoilt them.
Police launched a homicide investigation after Te Kani's death on Saturday in Tauranga, with forensic scene examination continuing today. A post-mortem is also expected to start today.
Te Kani's uncle, who the Bay of Plenty Times has agreed not to name out of fear for his safety, said seven family members, including three children, were at the house when the incident unfolded.
He was not there but said witnesses told him it turned into a "scrap", with the family "terribly outnumbered" at a house on Maungatapu Rd on Saturday night.
It was still unclear how what was meant to be a quiet family night turned into a brawl that ended up with his nephew dead, the spokesman said.
The family members that were there described the incident as "absolute mayhem," he said.
"They were just devastated. Knowing that was occurring right in front of their eyes from a mob of people with no discipline at all, that were intent on wreaking havoc."
Police were called to a large fight at a house on Maungatapu Rd at around 10.30pm on Saturday. They found Te Kani's body and have opened a homicide investigation.
One neighbour heard objects being thrown, glass shattering and property smashed up before armed police swarmed the area.
The family spokesman said Te Kani was the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back or his last penny, whether you were family or not.
With no kids of his own, he loved his nephews and nieces and would, at the drop of a hat, take them to sports games or practices.
Te Kani was often on the sidelines, "typically loud", and was a staunch Rangataua Sports Club rugby supporter.
He loved anything to do with the land, especially hunting and fishing.
"He was a very active and well-loved member of all of the communities that he associated himself with."
Te Kani was a truck driver, a job he loved, as it allowed him to see places, work with his hands and meet people along the way, the spokesman said.
Last night, about 40 of Te Kani's close whānau - including his siblings, dad and stepmother - were able to farewell him in the driveway of the property before his body was taken to the coroner, the spokesman said.
The spokesman said the family was in shock. They read about this sort of thing in newspapers but never expected it to happen to them.
He said the family was not actively involved in any gang, which "made it even worse".
He said he did not believe his nephew knew the perpetrators.
Once Te Kani returned home, he would be taken to Maungatapu Marae then Poutūterangi Marae before being laid to rest at Te Puna.
The whānau and extended relations are responding to the incident with aroha, the spokesman said, which is how Te Kani would have wanted it to be handled.
The Bay of Plenty District Health Board declined to comment.
Police have been approached for additional comment.