James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Police scour river in hunt for killer

George Taiaroa
George Taiaroa

Road construction worker George Taiaroa will be farewelled by whanau and friends at Levin today as police continue their hunt for his killer.

The 67-year-old was shot dead by a passing motorist while directing traffic on Tram Rd, Kinleith, south of Tokoroa on Tuesday afternoon.

The Weekend Herald understands the mourners, several of whom have come from construction sites in Australia, will attend his funeral service today.

Family spokeswoman Ani Mikaere said Bluff-born and raised Mr Taiaroa was an outdoors person who loved physical labour and American cars.

"He was incredibly strong and could build anything," she said.

Mr Taiaroa worked as a shearer, freezing worker and wharfie, before moving into construction in a work life spanning more than 50 years.

He had worked for HEB Construction for the past 18 years and was involved in a number of big projects.

"George was a man of no secrets. He dealt with matters openly and believed in making decisions as a whanau. His family always came first."

Mr Taiaroa was married to his wife Helen for 43 years.

Detective Inspector Mark Loper said police had widened inquiries, visiting the owners of blue 4WD vehicles as far afield as Te Awamutu.

Information from the public had allowed police to track the vehicle involved, believed to be a dark blue Jeep Cherokee, to its last known position on a road between Mangakino and Benneydale. The driver would have gone through a web of forestry roadways to get to the area and probably had local knowledge.

"They may have visited or moved through here and may be now living in Auckland or further afield; for that reason we want to hear from anybody who may have suspicion about who this person may be."

Yesterday, police divers scoured the Waikato River near the scene but wouldn't reveal what they were looking for. Police had an idea of the weapon involved in the murder and a description of the driver.

- NZ Herald

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