Police investigating 'execution' shooting of David Kuka have released new image of car of interest to inquiry. Detectives believe he was victim of mistaken identity and are probing a link to another fatal shooting.

People might not know David Kuka's name, but they'd recognise his face.

Tall and rangy, with long dark hair, the 52-year-old was a well-known figure in downtown Tauranga where he'd walk down the street with his first raised to the sky, pointing to heaven.

Wearing a leather vest with a cross on the back, Kuka would spend his weekend nights busking with his guitar and singing about his saviour.

"Dad was a very loud and proud Christian," says his daughter Te Kimioranga Te Kuka.

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"He really cared about other people. People would remember him, if they stop to think. We miss him heaps."

Twelve months have passed since David Rawiri Kuka's voice was silenced.

The father-of-four was killed in an execution-style shooting in Gate Pa in which police believe Kuka was targeted by mistake.

Tonight, his family plan to hold a candle-lit vigil outside the Wilrose Place address where he died to mark the first anniversary of his death.

Kuka was last seen playing his guitar at the commercial building, which he used as a workshop for his wood carving.

Examples of Kuka's work with master carver James Tapiata are dotted around Tauranga - he helped on the Matariki carvings on the Strand, as well as the whare at Tauranga Boys' College - and overseas.

David Rawiri Kuka was a talented carver whose work is dotted around Tauranga and overseas. Photo / Supplied.
David Rawiri Kuka was a talented carver whose work is dotted around Tauranga and overseas. Photo / Supplied.
David Kuka in a pose his family believe many people in Tauranga will recognise. Photo / Supplied.
David Kuka in a pose his family believe many people in Tauranga will recognise. Photo / Supplied.

"He loved telling stories through carving," says Te Kimiorangi, "he was very talented and loved working with his hands."

Of Ngai Te Rangi and Ngati Porou descent, her father was one of 10 siblings raised on Matakana Island, then in Greerton.

Tall and physically imposing, Kuka was a keen rugby player during his school years at Tauranga Boys', but loved music most of all.

"He was a gentle giant," says Te Kimioranga.

One particular story of his compassionate nature emerged only after his death.

About six months earlier, David Kuka saw a young man stumbling along the street in the Tauranga CBD one evening.

He had been assaulted and Kuka wrapped his own bandannas around the youth's head to stop the bleeding, while calling 111 for help.

Kuka waited with the young man and called his mother to reassure her, before quietly slipping away when the ambulance arrived.

The young man's family never had a chance to thank the Good Samaritan - until the mother saw David Kuka waiting to be embalmed in the funeral home where she worked.

Te Kimioranga Te Kuka rests her hand on a carving by her father, David Kuka, who was fatally shot in Tauranga on 11 February 2018. Photo / Alan Gibson.
Te Kimioranga Te Kuka rests her hand on a carving by her father, David Kuka, who was fatally shot in Tauranga on 11 February 2018. Photo / Alan Gibson.

"We had no idea Dad helped that boy, he was so humble," said Te Kimioranga.

"We didn't know until the mother saw him in the funeral home, it was amazing. He really cared about people."

Speaking on behalf of the Kuka whanau for the first time since her father's death, Te Kimioranga wanted the public to know her father had nothing to do with drugs or gangs anymore.

"He had completely turned his life around. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Her assessment is shared by the head of police inquiry, Detective Inspector Lew Warner.

A dozen officers are still working on the investigation and Warner said police have found no reason for anyone to target David Kuka - a religious man who told off his neighbours for swearing.

"There's nothing we can find to that would be a reason to murder him. It was a straight out execution" said Warner.

"We believe he's a victim of mistaken identity."

One line of inquiry being followed by the homicide inquiry team is whether Kuka was mistaken for someone else in connection to a fatal shooting at the same Wilrose Place address in January 2018.

The workshop in Gate Pa, Tauranga where David Kuka was found dead on 11 February 2018. Photo / George Novak.
The workshop in Gate Pa, Tauranga where David Kuka was found dead on 11 February 2018. Photo / George Novak.

Lance Wayne Waite, 58-year-old Mongrel Mob member, later died from his injuries in the Tauranga Hospital.

A 27-year-old man has pleaded not guilty to murdering Waite and is scheduled to stand trial in May.

Twelve months later, Warner says police cannot rule out a link between the violent deaths of Waite and Kuka.

"We're still investigating that scenario as well as many others."

A silver sedan, captured in security camera footage, is still considered important to the inquiry.

Warner revealed new information about the car: the vehicle had been seen in the Welcome Bay area before - and after - the fatal shooting of Kuka shortly before 10pm on 11 February 2018.

A silver sedan of interest to the police investigation was also seen in Welcome Bay before and after the murder. Photo / Supplied.
A silver sedan of interest to the police investigation was also seen in Welcome Bay before and after the murder. Photo / Supplied.
A silver sedan is of interest to the police investigating the death of David Kuka in Gate Pa, Tauranga in February 2018. Photo / Supplied.
A silver sedan is of interest to the police investigating the death of David Kuka in Gate Pa, Tauranga in February 2018. Photo / Supplied.
Police investigating death of David Kuka are interested in any information about this silver sedan. Photo / Supplied.
Police investigating death of David Kuka are interested in any information about this silver sedan. Photo / Supplied.

He urged anyone who recognised the car or had other information, to come forward and help give closure to the Kuka family.

"We really want to do the right thing by David. And by David's family," said Warner.

"I think his family is owed the right to know this has all taken place. We're really strongly focused on getting a result for them."

• People with information can ring Tauranga police on (07) 577 4300 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111