StarJam celebrates Lena Zhang's 'infectious smile', genuine heartfelt support for others in moving tribute

A homicide investigation was launched on Thursday for Lena Zhang.
A homicide investigation was launched on Thursday for Lena Zhang. Photo credit: Image - NZ Police

Tributes are pouring in for Lena Zhang Harrap who was murdered earlier this week.

A homicide investigation was launched on Thursday afternoon following the discovery of what's believed to be the body of Lena Zhang.

While formal identification is yet to be completed, police say they believe the body belongs to the 27-year-old, also known as Lena Zhang Harrap.

StarJam, which is a nonprofit organization supporting young New Zealanders with disabilities, has given an insight into the 27-year-old's life with a heartfelt message on Facebook. 

"It is with a heavy heart that we share the tragic news of the passing of Lena Harrap," StarJam wrote on its Facebook page. "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. 

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

One woman commented on the post saying; "So, so saddened by Lena's passing. I had the privilege of being a volunteer with the Auckland Magic Movers group a few years ago and I fondly remember Lena's enthusiasm, friendliness and can-do attitude. Thinking of everyone affected by this tragic event."

Another person wrote; "It was such a privilege to know Lena - she was always so enthusiastic with everything she did and her love of dancing was truly wonderful to watch. 

"She put the 'magic' in Magic Movers! She will be so missed and in our hearts and memories always."

Police are now pleading for help from the public after identifying a person of interest in the investigation into the death of an Auckland woman.

At a press conference from the Mt Roskill Police Station at 4:30pm on Thursday, Detective Inspector Aaron Pascoe provided further details about the case. 

He urged any member of the public who saw Zhang out on her regular walk to Ōwairaka Domain between 6:30am and 7:30am to come forward. 

Police say she is 130cm-tall, has Down syndrome and was walking at a slow pace. 

She was wearing a long-sleeved purple top and long, dark-coloured pants. 

They have also released an image of someone they say is a person of interest in the case. 

"This male, who is seen wearing a blue jumper, was captured on CCTV walking along Grande Ave shortly after 7:30am," said Det Insp Pascoe. 

He is described as dark-skinned, balding hair, a distinctive mark on his forehead and was wearing a mask.

Police are appealing to anyone who saw Zhang or the man seen on CCTV cameras to contact the investigation team.

Anyone with CCTV is urged to contact the Operation Daleyza investigation team by phoning 0800 325 399 (0800 DALEYZA).