Tane Wipa, man fatally shot by police in Wainuiomata, left a life of crime and violence behind

Tane Wipa was shot dead by police in Wainuiomata after holding a weapon to a woman's throat.
Tane Wipa was shot dead by police in Wainuiomata after holding a weapon to a woman's throat. Photo credit: Newshub

Story by RNZ

A judge warned more than a decade ago that a man who held a weapon to a woman's throat last week was likely to unleash his anger at a partner in the future.

Tane Wipa was shot dead by police in the Lower Hutt suburb of Wainuiomata last Thursday, after holding his partner hostage for more than an hour.

The police said medics tried to save the 36-year-old, but he died at the scene. The woman was uninjured.

Official documents seen by RNZ show Wipa had a long history of violent offending, both in New Zealand and Australia - where he lived from the age of four until he was deported in 2012.

Release from Auckland Prison

Just two years ago, Wipa was released from Auckland Prison after serving a sentence of four years and nine months without parole for aggravated robbery.

He was subject to GPS monitoring and a curfew for the following two months, and under the condition that for six months he would not associate with any of his victims, and would tell authorities details of any intimate relationship which started, resumed or ended.

Authorities said Wipa had not wanted to do rehabilitation programmes while in prison, but had "kept himself out of mischief and misconduct trouble for most of this year" - which led to his security classification being reduced from maximum to high.

A parole assessment report referred to apparent threats to his ex-partner and her whānau, but that was no longer seen as a risk when considering his release because the woman had a new partner.

An earlier trial had found him guilty of robbing an Auckland dairy - two youths had robbed the store while Wipa, the "adult leader", stood as a lookout outside. He was still subject to release conditions from a previous jail sentence at the time. At the sentencing, Judge Gibson described Wipa as "a habitual criminal", and said he had been one since a young age.

Deported from Australia

Wipa first appeared in the Childen's Court at the age of 13.

Over the next few years, while still a teenager, he assaulted a 16-year-old with a metal pipe, struck another youth on the forehead with a steering lock and undertook an armed robbery with "actual violence".

In December 2010, Wipa pleaded guilty to two serious assaults, after he spat blood in the faces of a police officer and an ambulance officer while knowing he was infected with hepatitis C. The sentencing judge described his actions as "despicable".

He was in and out of prison for the rest of his life, accumulating a "significant" criminal history by the time of a 2012 tribunal hearing regarding his deportation.

"Wipa has an appalling record of committing crimes, and particularly crimes of violence or threatened violence. It is quite astonishing considering that he has only just turned 25," the tribunal said.

At the time of his deportation, Wipa had two children - a two-year-old son to his partner of three years (an Australian citizen born in New Zealand) and a one-year-old daughter to a former girlfriend. All three adults hoped he would be involved in bringing up the children.

The tribunal said Wipa had no New Zealand connection, as his immediate family - a mother and four younger siblings - lived in Australia. However, it found that was not enough to stop his deportation.

"He has demonstrated an unfortunately violent nature from an early age and it seems highly likely that that violent nature remains ... there is every reason to suppose that that anger might be used against a partner or child in the future."

New Zealand Police confirmed members of Wipa's immediate family were present at the time of his death, but were yet to give more details.

On Wipa's offences, the tribunal said his violence was the most concerning aspect.

"There is no evidence to suggest, and no reason to suppose, that Wipa would refrain from committing offences if released into the community. His record to date suggests to the contrary... all three of his most serious episodes of offending [have] been characterised by a high level of personal violence.

"There is a high likelihood that Wipa will continue to offend and will continue to offend in a violent manner."

'Worst news of my life'

A GoFundMe page has been set up by one of Wipa's brothers to help pay for a tangi and to cover the cost of flying the family from Australia to New Zealand.

Hearing of the death was "some of the worst news of my life, that I wouldn't wish upon anyone", he said. Wipa's remains would be taken back to Australia "to be with mum and dad once again".

Several investigations were underway following the shooting, including a police critical incident investigation. The matter has also been referred to the Independent Police Conduct Authority.