29 Sep 2019

Police car stolen at gunpoint in central North Island

1:58 pm on 29 September 2019

The police are looking for a 33-year-old man after a police car was stolen at gunpoint in Ōhakune overnight.

Tama Rawhiti

Tama Rawhiti Photo: NZ Police / Supplied

It was taken after two police officers stopped a woman to carry out a breath test on Wye Street at about 10.20pm.

The police say a man, who had been partly hidden in the back seat, got out and pointed a firearm at the officers.

After stealing the car, the pair crashed it into a gatepost and fled on foot.

Police were able to recover the patrol car. Nothing was taken from it while the offender was using it. The car had minor damage.

The police say they believe the male offender is Tama Michael Rawhiti, from Marton, who is the subject of a parole recall warrant .

Whanganui Area Commander Inspector Nigel Allan said his behaviour last night indicates he poses a significant risk so the police are working hard to locate him.

He has recent links to Marton, Whanganui and Hawera and is believed to be travelling extensively across the North Island.

Rawhiti is believed to be in possession of at least one firearm and should not be approached.

"Our staff acted with considerable courage in a very challenging situation," Inspector Allan said.

Police have worked through the night in Ōhakune attempting to locate Rawhiti but as yet have not been successful.

"We want to hear from anyone who may have information as to his whereabouts or any other information that may assist us in achieving his safe arrest."

They have spoken to the driver of the car that the officers initially pulled over.

In 2012 Rawhiti led the police on a manhunt in the lower North Island - again on a parole recall warrant - after drugs and firearms were found at his house.

He was decribed at the time as being a gang member with a history of violent offending involving firearms.

If anyone sees Rawhiti they are advised not to approach him and to call 111 immediately.

Anyone with information that may assist in locating him should contact police via 105 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.