3 Aug 2015

Fears grow for teen 'held against will'

6:38 pm on 3 August 2015

Rotorua police have "grave concerns" for a 15-year-old girl who says she is being held against her will.

LA Tukerangi (left) and Dean Wayne Whakatau

LA Tukerangi (left) and Dean Whakatau Photo: NZ POLICE

Police say LA Tukerangi made contact with a family member on Saturday to ask for help.

They want to speak to 36-year-old Dean Wayne Whakatau as they said there were indications he was with her in Rotorua as recently as Sunday morning.

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.

Detective Senior Sergeant Zane Smith said the pair were last seen yesterday walking through a mall in Rotorua.

"She was on foot in the central business district, she was with Mr Whakatau, or a person we believe to be Mr Whakatau, and we need to speak to him as soon as possible," he said.

"He may be able to direct us to where LA is at present."

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.

An aunt of LA Tukerangi, who did not want to be named, said the family were holding up as well as could be expected and hoped to hear from her soon.

There has been an outpouring of support on social media for the family.

Police are asking for any sightings of LA Tukerangi or Dean Whakatau to be reported immediately by dialling 111.

Anyone with any general information about the pair or where they might be are asked to contact Rotorua Police on 07 348 0099.