Christchurch Airbnb party death: Angry court scenes as teenager admits manslaughter charge

Zion Purukamu, 16, died of his injuries after being stabbed outside a party in Christchurch. Photo/George Heard

A youth accused of murdering Christchurch teenager Zion Purukamu outside an Airbnb party today pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter, prompting an angry outcry from members of the young victim’s family filling the courtroom.

And now Khanye Eruera Harimate Te HueHue can be named for the first time as the young accused in Purukamu’s death.

Te HueHue – who was 16 at the time but is now 18 – pleaded guilty in a tense hearing at the High Court in Christchurch this morning and the interim name removal has expired.

Judge Gerald Nation has remanded the teenager in custody to face sentencing on March 14 next year.

The summary of facts outlining how the fatal stabbing occurred was read out in court.

This caused outbursts of anger among Sion’s family members, including her father.

“You killed my fucking son, c***,” he shouted.

Others said Te HueHue “should be done for murder, not manslaughter”, with a torrent of slurs and threats thrown from the dock.

Te HueHue’s family were also abused as they left the courtroom today, with one kicked as they left.

The summary states that on Friday August 13 last year, a small group of friends gathered at an Airbnb house on Medbury Terrace to throw a 17th birthday party.

The Medbury Terrace stage.  Photo/George Heard
The Medbury Terrace stage. Photo/George Heard

The birthday girl sent invitations on Instagram and people started arriving in the evening.

At 10 p.m., about 80 people were inside and outside the house.

The three victims – Zion and two friends, one aged just 14 and the other 17 – were with a group of associates who called themselves the “Rowley Boys” – as a number of them are from Rowley Avenue in Hoon Hay.

Te HueHue arrived with two associates – an 18-year-old and a 20-year-old – around 10 p.m. They didn’t know the Rowley Boys.

At some point during the night, Zion and a friend confronted Te HueHue about kissing a girl they considered too drunk and told her to leave.

He refused and there was a fight on the house deck between Te HueHue and a number of Rowley Boys.

They chased him down the street and into a nearby property where they continued to fight.

One of them asked for the Louis Vuitton Te HueHue bag he was carrying and took it.

The fight continued in the driveway of the party house.

At some point, Te HueHue pulled a knife out of his clothes and stabbed Zion in the abdomen and back.

The stab wound to the abdomen punctured Sion’s aorta, which proved fatal.

He staggered on the road and fell to the ground.

The 14-year-old lunged at Te HueHue and was stabbed in the chest, puncturing a lung.

Te HueHue ran towards Clyde Rd. As he passed a 17-year-old who was not involved in the fight, he stabbed him in the chest, causing a severe laceration in the spleen.

Partygoers called emergency services and administered first aid to the three victims.

Zion was taken inside where they tried CPR before paramedics took over and rushed him to hospital where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Afterwards, Te HueHue “commented to various people that the victims deserved it,” the summary reads, but adds, “although it is admitted that he could not have known at this point that Zion would die.”

The comments sparked outrage in the courtroom, saying he “should be done for murder, not manslaughter”.

Te HueHue later admitted to police that he stabbed the three, but said it was in self-defense.

He was initially charged with murdering Sion and injuring the other teenagers with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

He appeared in youth court before Judge Jane McMeeken the following day, where he pleaded not guilty to all charges.

At his first hearing, his attorney Ethan Huda argued for him and informed the court that he had elected a jury trial.

That trial was due to take place in the High Court in Christchurch in November next year.

At his first court appearance, members of Zion’s family – including his parents and sister – were present and visibly upset.

The grieving family shouted insults and swear words at the suspected killer and the police had to intervene and calm the situation.

“You should have died,” her mother yells.

“You’re dead…you’re going to die in there,” her sister said.

The police had to physically stop Zion’s mother from rushing to the dock. She was almost inconsolable.

The defendant’s mother, uncle and grandmother were also present.

They were also upset and remained silent during the intense hearing.

The night Zion died, he was at the party with around 80 other young people – being held in a house rented through Airbnb on Medbury Terrace.

Zion’s funeral was scheduled for Friday, August 20, days after the country was put back into a nationwide lockdown in a bid to prevent the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19.

Her family said they would not speak to the media about her death.

Zion’s girlfriend took to social media to pay a moving tribute to the slain teenager.

“I’m so weak at this point, I feel so lost that nothing will ever be the same again,” the teenager – who the Herald won’t identify – said in a lengthy Instagram post.

“I feel like I lost the best part of me, from the start you held it back and you stayed true – I wish I could have held you tighter the last time I saw you and tell you how much you meant to me.

“You hold a place in my heart that no one can ever replace.”

She said Zion was her world and made everything “so much better.”

“I will miss you holding me saying you love me – the way you walked, talked, smiled, laughed – everything,” she wrote.

“You made me feel comfortable all the time and you were always on top of my issues, I feel like I can’t even stand up anymore.

“I will always be grateful to you my forever love – I appreciate you more than anything and anyone.

“We all hurt.”

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