4 Aug 2015

Police appeal to missing LA to get in touch

10:59 am on 4 August 2015

The police are appealing to a missing Auckland teenager to contact them directly.

LA Tukerangi, 15, made contact with a family member on Saturday through social media andsaid she was being held against her will.

LA is believed to be with Dean Wayne Whakatau, 36, who has convictions for violent offending. Police say he and the missing 15-year-old were spotted walking through a Rotorua mall on Sunday.

LA Tukerangi (left) and Dean Wayne Whakatau

LA Tukerangi and Dean Whakatau Photo: NZ POLICE

Police said they did not know whether she was with Whakatau willingly or not, and want to speak to her directly to make sure she is safe.

Whakatau is subject to an arrest warrant for breach of release conditions and the public are warned not to approach him. He is 170cm tall, of solid build and is missing two front teeth.

Please, we need our daughter back

LA's father, Chris Tukerangi, told Morning Report Whakatau was a dangerous man.

"She was forced into his car or taken away with him and she stayed with him for a couple of weeks saying that she was fine, until Saturday just gone [when] she got in contact with us and said she was desperate for her life."

He said the family was finding it hard to sleep as they waited for news about LA.

Mr Tukerangi said his daughter met Whakatau through her boyfriend.

"She had a 16-year-old boyfriend, and kids nowadays, they sort of have boyfriends at young ages, and so we sort of go along with it and that was fine.

"But then she apparently got mixed up with this guy and he's sort of like the adopted brother to the 16-year-old boyfriend."

He told Morning Report that LA was not in a relationship with Whakatau.

"That's what everyone thinks, and I know my daughter, she's a bit of a follower. She's either a real good girl, or sort of easily influenced.

"But at that age, you're just not in any control to make any important decisions. She would have made a split decision, we understand that she was under the influence of alcohol at the time too.

"So it's quite easy for a person like Dean to manipulate a person like that."

Mr Tukerangi said at the time LA went with Whakatau there was, he understood, a physical confrontation between the family and Whakatau.

"A bit of a tug of war going on even.

"She would have went along with it. As far as I'm concerned, I'm her father, I know her, she could be trying to play the cool person saying, 'No me and Dean are OK', but that's only to save her life probably, because this guy is dangerous the public are told not to approach this guy."

Mr Tukerangi said he had this message for Whakatau: "We're her family, we love her dearly."

"We care and love our daughter LA dearly, so please just drop her off at the nearest police station, or anywhere ...

"Please, we need our daughter back."

Mr Tukerangi described Whakatau as a scary person and said it was a weird feeling to be completely unable to help his daughter.

Whakatau, who has links to Rotorua and Taupo, was the subject of a manhunt in 2005 after he and another man escaped from a Rotorua police cell.