A 21-year-old man has pleaded guilty to killing Rotorua school principal and Bay of Plenty regional councillor Hawea Vercoe.
Isaiah Johnson Richard Tai had been due to appear before the High Court at Rotorua on Wednesday for a date to be set for a murder trial, but instead pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Tai has been released on bail and is due to be sentenced on 2 June.
An aspiring Maori leader, Hawea Vercoe died after being punched to the ground during an argument outside a Whakatane bar in November last year.
Eyewitnesses had described him being kicked in the head as if it were a rugby ball while he lay unconscious.