Tributes for expat Kiwi slain in stabbing

Robert Wilkinson
Robert Wilkinson
The skies were grey, but the rain held off as mourners made their way into the Waihi Beach RSA to farewell stabbing victim Robert Wilkinson.

The 64-year-old, known as Murray, died in Waikato Hospital on Thursday after he was stabbed in the neck and head outside the caravan which he and his wife were staying in on a property in Waihi Beach, between 12.30am and 1.30am on New Year's Day.

The atmosphere was solemn yesterday as mourners walked quickly and quietly into the RSA.

About 100 cars packed the carpark just before the funeral began.

The expat New Zealander, who had been living in Queensland, was on holiday and staying with friends on Beach Rd at the time of the attack.

Tributes to the engineer and helicopter pilot have been flowing in online forums.

On, a meeting place for the Australian helicopter community, members expressed their shock and passed on condolences to Mr Wilkinson's family.

"I worked with Murray at Pacific Helicopters in the late '80s and early '90s. Both of us were engineers who also did some flying for the company. Great guy,'' said one. Messages were also left on the Professional Pilots Rumour Network.

"I was lucky enough to know Murray both professionally and socially, both in PNG and Australia. Excellent engineer and all round nice guy.

"He never had a bad word to say about anyone and was always smiling. My thoughts are with Lou and his family. RIP mate,'' said Dusty Dog.

"What a terrible tragedy. My sincere condolences to Murray's family. Many-a-time did he tend the craft I used to fly in PNG. He was a first class mechanic with a wonderfully dry sense of humour. A very sad ending . .. What a world we live in,'' said another member.

Police arrested an 18-year-old Waihi man yesterday and charged him with Mr Wilkinson's murder. The teenager appeared in Hamilton District Court this morning and has interim name suppression.

Waikato District Crime Manager Detective Chris Page said about 30 police staff from across Waikato, Central and Upper North Island were continuing to work on the case.

He urged anyone with information, who had not yet contacted police, to do so.

The crime scene examination was completed during the weekend and a number of items of interest were found, including several knives.

The Operation Brad inquiry team can be found at the Waihi Beach and Waihi police stations or contacted via the inquiry crimeline 0800 OP BRAD (0800 672 723). Alternatively information can be left anonymously with Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

- By Amy McGillivray of the Bay of Plenty Times

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