Body of teen found at sports field

A postmortem will today try to establish the role a night of drinking and freezing conditions might have played in the death of a 14-year-old.

Malcolm Karaitiana-Nicoll's body was discovered at the Taupo Hockey Club yesterday morning by members of the Phoenix under-14 rugby league team.

The players called their coach, who attempted CPR, but there was little that could be done for the teenager, who is believed to have been dead for some time.

Police are treating the death as suspicious until they can determine exactly how he died. A postmortem is scheduled to take place in Auckland today.

Last night, the coach said Malcolm was involved in kapa haka and was a "strong boy", a leader who was looked up to by many of the young league players.

It is understood Malcolm may have spent the night drinking with friends.

Detective Senior Sergeant James McGrogan said he did not want to comment on what Malcolm had been doing on Saturday night until the cause of death had been established.

Part of the investigation would, however, look at if he had been drinking and if the weather conditions - which included temperatures as low as 2degC - had played any role in the death.

Friends and family have told The New Zealand Herald they last saw the teen late on Saturday afternoon at the swimming pool, which is near the hockey turf.

An aunt, who did not want to be named, said she was not sure what Malcolm had been doing on Saturday night but he would often go into Taupo to stay with his grandparents during the weekend.

"He's a good kid but who knows what these kids get up to."

She would remember him as "happy, handsome and awesome young boy", who grew up on Waitahanui's Pakira Marae and was proud of his culture.

His relatives last night gathered at a family home in Waitahanui, about 10km south of Taupo, to talk about the sudden death and plan for a tangi which will be held once his body is released. Yesterday, many of Malcolm's friends gathered at the pool following the discovery of his body.

It is understood those friends included the rugby league players who found him while they were waiting for a bus to take them to a game in Tokoroa.

The coach who attempted the CPR said Malcolm had mainly played rugby but also moved into league this year and was a talented player.

A woman who was also at the scene said the coach stayed with Malcolm's body until his family arrived. Malcolm was a year 9 pupil at Taupo Nui-A-Tia College where principal Peter Moyle yesterday remembered him as "a very nice young man". He said news of his death was "not very pleasant" and the school's thoughts were with the boy's family.

Despite it being school holidays, a crisis management team had been set up at the school marae to help support pupils.

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