Taiaroa murder: No 'familial relationship'

By Natalie Akoorie, Rotorua Daily Post staff

George Taiaroa. Photo / supplied
George Taiaroa. Photo / supplied

Police will not elaborate on the reason behind the murder of George Taiaroa in Atiamuri last month, but say there was no "familial relationship" between their main suspect and the victim.

In a media conference held this afternoon, police said the discovery of the vehicle at the centre of the murder investigation and identification of a main suspect were major breakthroughs in the case.

Mr Taiaroa was fatally shot as he operated a stop-go sign on Tram Road, Atiamuri on Tuesday, 19 March.

Detective Inspector Tim Anderson said the case was complex, but that police have narrowed the focus of their investigation.

Mr Anderson said there was no "familial relationship" between their main suspect and Mr Taiaroa. He would not elaborate on a motive for the killing, except to say police were closer to identifying one.

He would not be drawn on yesterday's arrest of a 76-year-old man, other than to say his arrest was not related to the homicide investigation.

More than 35 officers are working on this case. Mr Anderson said police would not give up.

"We have some of the best detectives in the North Island on this case"

This morning police said a vehicle believed to have been involved in the fatal shooting of the stop-go sign operator had also been seized and was being forensically examined.

"We do have a main suspect in relation to this investigation and we are also working on the possibility that he is being protected or actively assisted by others,'' Mr Anderson said.

Mr Anderson said progress in the case was in no small part due to "significant support" from the New Zealand community.

"The investigation team have covered a lot of ground and that has included the preparation and execution of a number of search warrants in both the Bay of Plenty and Taranaki since George was killed.

"I will not be drawn on the specifics of those warrants and whether or not any of those remain pertinent to the ongoing inquiry. What I am able to say is that we have recently seized a vehicle that we believe was involved on the day of the murder and we also believe we are closer to the motive behind the cold-blooded murder."

Police can confirm that the vehicle was located in the Bay of Plenty District. However police will not disclose when that vehicle was found, the circumstances in which it was located, or the nature of forensic tests that have been carried out on the vehicle. The vehicle remains subject to ongoing examination.

"Just because we have reached a turning point in the investigation, that doesn't mean we don't still need information from the public," said Mr Anderson.

"They have been crucial in getting us this far and their assistance remains and they can still make a significant difference. We remain particularly interested in the movements of a late 90s, dark blue Jeep Cherokee on the day of the murder and the days that followed. We also remain particularly interested in sightings of this vehicle in and around south Taranaki, Taumarunui, Benneydale and Rotorua."

Anyone with information is asked to contact the investigation team directly on 0800 Kingswood. Alternatively information can be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

- NZ Herald

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