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Watch: Family ‘hugely hurt’ by tragic death of teen found in burnt-out car, urge anyone with information to come forward & More Breaking News


The heartbroken whānau of the Napier teen whose body was found in a burnt and abandoned car have described 18-year-old Ariki Rigby as a “beautiful, energetic, bright-eyed” person who “lived life full throttle”.

Her cousin Mike Ngahuka​ described her as a “beautiful young girl” who was both family-oriented and “a free spirit”.

“She lived life to the full,” he said, speaking to media on behalf of the whānau.

Ngahuka said the family had been “shocked” and “hugely hurt” by her tragic death, which had been “ugly” and “evil”.

* Family mourns loss of ‘beautiful girl’ found in burnt-out car in Havelock North
* Body in burnt-out Havelock North car investigation now a homicide
* Police confirm woman’s body found in burnt out car in Havelock North
* Dog walker raised alarm after body found in burnt-out car mistaken for animal
* Body found in car in rural Hawke’s Bay

Ariki Rigby, 18, was found dead in a Havelock North car that had been set on fire.


Ariki Rigby, 18, was found dead in a Havelock North car that had been set on fire.

Ngahuka acknowledged the huge outpouring of grief that had come from the Hawke’s Bay community as well as others across Aotearoa. “This is a tragedy,” he said. “We want to see closure after this. Our main focus is to give our girl a beautiful, honourable sendoff.”

He urged anyone with information to come forward. “I don’t know how anyone involved with this could live with themselves.”

Her death was initially treated as “unexplained” after her body was found in an abandoned car near River Rd on September 3, on a no-exit rural road on the outskirts of Havelock North.

Rigby was reported missing to police last Thursday. Earlier this week, she was formally identified by police with a homicide investigation also launched.


Ariki Rigby’s body was found in a burnt-out car in Havelock North. Police have launched a homicide investigation.

Because of the condition of the vehicle and debris from the fire, police “did not immediately identify that human remains were in the cabin of the car”. Instead, the body was dismissed as being that of a sheep.

It was only when police were again called to the scene two days later on September 5 by a Hastings dog walker that a “subsequent inspection” revealed “suspected human remains”.

Of the man who found Rigby, Ngahuka said the family “looked forward to embracing him” at the funeral on Friday, which will be held in Hastings at the Ascende Global Church at 11am. This will be followed by a private cremation.

“The whānau haven’t had that one-on-one time … But there’s nothing but mountains of love from our family to him,” Ngahuka said.

Floral tributes left at the Havelock North site where Ariki Rigby's body was found last Monday.

Gianina Schwanecke/Stuff

Floral tributes left at the Havelock North site where Ariki Rigby’s body was found last Monday.

Kevin Monrad​, the man who found Rigby, said he wished he had discovered her sooner but hoped this had given the family some relief.

He said it had been a difficult and “heavy” few days, and he had struggled to sleep at night. “Every hour I think about her a couple of times.”

He hoped attending the funeral would bring him some measure of comfort and closure.

The River Road Recreational Reserve car park was closed early last week while police completed a scene examination.

Gianina Schwanecke/Stuff

The River Road Recreational Reserve car park was closed early last week while police completed a scene examination.

Police said they were making good progress in the investigation into Rigby’s death.

Detective Inspector Dave De Lange​ said via a statement on Thursday that police were following “strong lines” of inquiry and were working hard to hold to account the person or persons responsible for her death.

“We are working closely with Ariki’s whānau who are devastated by her death,” he said.

Police were interested to hear from anyone who could help establish Rigby’s movements on Friday September 2, the day several family and friends last reported seeing her according to social media posts.

The vehicle in which her body was found was a mid-90s dark grey Toyota Corona, believed to have been taken to the car park sometime between 10pm on September 2 and 7am on September 3.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 105 quoting file number 220905/1265. Information can be provided anonymously to Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.

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