Warning: Video contains imagery that may disturb some viewers.
A Northland family is struggling to come to terms with the brutal killing of their pet.
Mangonui resident Cherie Tatai woke on Sunday morning to find Cheeka the chicken, a family pet for more than three years, dead and strung up on their gate.
"It was horrific," she told Newshub.
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Tatai has four sons, but her eight-year-old, Tohe, was the closest with Cheeka.
"They slept in his bed together, the chicken came in the car with us, they did everything together," she said.
Tatai had to tell her older sons to take Tohe inside once she had discovered Cheeka's hanging body.
"I had to tell his brothers to not let him outside, to not let him see what was going on."
Tatai originally told her youngest son that his pet had flown away, but has since let him know his friend has died.
"I didn't know why he was crying yesterday. He was saying he couldn't find something - but he didn't tell me it was because of her.”
Tatai is trying to understand what could be behind the incident.
"Is it my fault? What have I done? What have I missed?"
The broader Far North community has been impacted by the loss of Cheeka, who was a friend to many in their neighbourhood.
"Everyone wants to help. She would wander around the neighbourhood and invite herself into people's homes," Tatai told Newshub.
The mother has other animals and has taken precautions to ensure their safety.
"I have two other chickens, and I've locked them up in their pen. I don't want to take any chances."
Police are investigating the incident.