Raetihi manhunt continues

Photo: Ruapehu bulletin)
Photo: Ruapehu bulletin)

The search for a missing fugitive in the Ruapehu district will continue overnight, with extra patrols in the region, police say.

The big guns have already been swarming across district since early this morning, looking for Dolphy Tetawhero Kohu and five others at the centre of a monstrous manhunt.

Police set up road blocks and told people to keep their children at home. They also warned against picking up strangers or hitchhikers.

Police warned the offenders were armed and dangerous, and urged public to stay clear.

A woman, believed to an associate of Kohu, was arrested earlier this afternoon and police then returned to the property she had been located.

A man and a woman were arrested around 5pm, in a search that now involves at least 30 officers.

Police say there will a strong police presence in the area overnight.

The manhunt began at around 2:30am when police in Whanganui spotted the suspect's car, and what they describe as suspicious activity.

The driver of the car wouldn’t stop, and so police chased it all the way to Raetihi where it came to an abrupt halt after apparently collecting a fence.

When officers approached the vehicle they were shot at, and so retreated. While they took cover, the offenders stole the police car and drive off. The officers were shaken, but otherwise uninjured.

The vehicle was towed away this afternoon after it was found dumped eight kilometres away.

Police say Kohu and the others bailed into another vehicle, owned by an associate.

Kohu's grandfather raised him from the age of 13-years-old and says he is worried this will end in the worst of ways. 

 "He'll be shot or some innocent bystander or police officers could get hurt. If this message could reach him to give himself up - I'd rather him alive than have to go to a funeral or something."

Raetihi is Kohu's stomping ground and when 3 News called at the house where it's believed he stays with his girlfriend, nobody answered.

Kohu's no stranger to the police, having committed aggravated robbery while on bail and other violent offending, including leading police on another manhunt in 2012 which dragged on for six weeks.  

He had been paroled after serving a two-and-half year sentence for shooting at a Whanganui family, but was being recalled to jail. A warrant was issued for his arrest last month after he breached parole conditions.

It is actually the second time Kohu would have been sent back to jail; he was recalled to prison in March for parole breaches. 

In releasing him this time around the parole board considered his unenviable record, but said it was satisfied there would be no further breaches because Kohu now had a different focus - supporting his pregnant partner.

Tonight his focus may have waned, but the police focus has not - they're determined to find their man.

Earlier today Commander Superintendent Sue Schwalger appealed for Kohu to do the right thing.

"I would like you to hand yourself in. We would like to resolve this safely. You have an opportunity to make this right and we welcome you to come in and speak with us."

Kohu's uncle, Piri Kohu, said it would be a "great outcome" if his nephew turned himself in.

"Be very careful out there. Have a serious think about what you're doing, and be sure what you choose to do is what you choose to do," he told RadioLIVE.

"Depending on the choice you make, there will be two outcomes… One is the police will shoot you, and two they won't shoot you."

2009: Jailed for three years and three months after the then 16-year-old robbed a Whanganui dairy owner armed with a shotgun

March 2013: Jailed for two-and-a-half years for firing a shotgun at a family in Whanganui. Also given two-and-a-half years for wilful damage. Had driven to Tauranga to buy a car, thought the sellers were ripping him off, so smashed the windows of the car with an empty vodka bottle

October 2014: Released from prison

March 2015: Recalled to prison after breaching release conditions

June 2015: Released from prison

July 2015: Recalled to prison, warrant to arrest issued

August 2015: Large-scale police operation to find Kohu after police were shot at following a pursuit.

Kohu only has one month remaining on his sentence, so can only be put back in prison on his current offences for one month. But he could face a longer stretch in prison if he's charged with more offences.

3 News