The body found on Wednesday burning in the back seat of a car on Tauranga’s Matakana Island, is likely that of community leader Sonny Tawhiao.
Auckland Police forensic investigators were called to the crime scene soon after the blazing car was discovered. Police are treating the death as suspicious.
Sonny Tawhiao (36) was a respected community leader reportedly passionate about Matakana - which has a population of around 300. Tahwiao is said to have had big plans for the community.
The body has been returned to Matakana Marae. Once the body has been formally identified by forensic examination results, a tangi will be held and the place where the body was found will be blessed and the car buried at the site.
Tawhiao was seen as a promoter of opportunity for the island community - encouraging residents to attract visitors to the island, and to take advantage of millennium celebrations and Americas Cup opportunities.
He was an in-between communicator between the island’s young and elder residents.
The police want to hear from
anyone who may have seen Mr Tawhiao on or before Wednesday