Family of Lena Zhang Harrap thanks wider Auckland community for support

Source: 1News

The family of Lena Zhang Harrap has thanked the wider Auckland community for "the outpouring we have received" after a man was arrested overnight charged with her murder.

Zhang Harrap, who was vision impaired and had Down syndrome, was reported missing on Wednesday after failing to return from a walk in Mt Albert at around 6.30am.

The 27-year-old's body was discovered by a member of the public who was walking along the track between Summit Drive and Grande Ave at 4.30pm later that day.

A homicide investigation was launched on Thursday, leading to the arrest of a 31-year-old man overnight.

"With the outpouring we have received, we are eternally grateful," Zhang Harrap's family wrote in a statement released on Friday.

"We acknowledge that people want to express their grief and love for Lena and our family."

Flowers and messages laid near where Lena Zhang Harrap was found at a walkway in Mt Albert.

Zhang Harrap's family said Lena had received "great joy, friendship, acceptance and belonging through two amazing charitable organisations; those being Heart Kids and StarJam ".

Zhang Harrap attended StarJam for over 12 years, the charity said on Thursday while confirming her death.

"For over 12 years Lena has been a true Jammer in Auckland Magic Movers and more recently the Central Alumni All Stars; greeting everyone with her infectious smile, genuine heartfelt support and inviting her fellow Jammers up to join her Spot the Talents," StarJam wrote.

"Lena you will always be in our hearts – our thoughts go out to your family and friends."

Heart Kids paid tribute to Zhang Harrap in a Facebook post on Friday afternoon. 

"We feel privileged to have enjoyed Lena's bubbly presence at so many of our Heart Kids events, camps, and coffee groups," the statement read.

"Lena's genuine warmth and kindness saw her make many friends from all walks of life - she was a true ray of sunshine and will be sorely missed.

"Our thoughts and love are with all who knew Lena. Rest in peace beautiful Lena, you will never be forgotten."

The Zhang Harrap family called on the community to "direct your aroha through supporting these two charities, so others may continue to benefit".

Detective Inspector Aaron Pascoe also thanked the wider Auckland community in a  video message  on Friday "for their assistance and support in helping police to conclude this matter so quickly".

He said the surrounding communities in Mt Albert and Mt Eden have been "very, very helpful to police and are continuing to be helpful".

“Without the help of the public, we would not have been able to achieve this result for the family and for Lena as quickly as we have, so thank you from the New Zealand Police," he said.

"We don’t do this job - we can’t do this job - without your support."