Anna Leask

Anna Leask is a police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Gang elder evading prison recall

Convicted killer who has dodged authorities since February claims he's not covered by New Zealand law.

Graham Te Awa.
Graham Te Awa.

A convicted murderer and gang member is on the run from police, and is doing everything he can to avoid returning to prison.

Graham "Choc" Te Awa, a long-serving senior member of the notorious Head Hunters gang, has been evading authorities since February 25. He has also told authorities he has a new job as head of security for Polynesian royalty, so does not believe he has to adhere to New Zealand laws.

A warrant for the 56-year-old's arrest was issued after he failed to attend compulsory meetings with his parole officer, a condition of his release.

It is understood he was abusive to his parole officer in February and intimated he would not be attending further meetings.

Te Awa has a lengthy list of convictions, including rape and wounding with intent in 1975 and murder in 1985.

He and fellow Head Hunter Wayne Doyle were convicted of murdering King Cobra Siaso Evalu, who was beaten to death in a Ponsonby street by members of the rival gang.

He also hit the headlines in 2000 when he was shot by Hells Angels gang member Petar Vitali.

After arriving at his Te Atatu South home to find Te Awa and six other senior Head Hunters hitching his fishing boat on to his Ford Mustang, he snatched a pistol and fired five .45-calibre bullets. One round punched through Te Awa's stomach, almost killing him.

Detective Brendon Pearson said Te Awa knew he was wanted by police and knew he would be returning to prison when caught.

Due to his previous offending he is on parole for the rest of his life and can be recalled whenever he reoffends or breaches conditions set at the time of his release.

It is understood Te Awa may be with John Monga, who goes by the title of High Chief of Aotearoa for the Polynesian Kingdom of Atooi, the ancestral name for Hawaii.

According to its website, the Kingdom of Atooi is recognised by the United Nations as an indigenous sovereign nation that is part of the Royal Union of Pacific Nations. A branch of the kingdom operates in New Zealand, with the mission of its people to "make right with the land", and Te Awa claims he is head of security.

Mr Pearson said Te Awa was not wanted for any recent offending, but as he was a career criminal, he could be considered dangerous.

Te Awa had a history of violent offending and he should not be approached.

"He knows that he is going to be recalled to prison because of this, so he is actively hiding," he told the Herald.

"We have spoken to the [Head Hunters] and his associates and their attitude is that he needs to give himself up, they are not going to do it."

Police have been trying to flush Te Awa out since February and said he had family in the Papakura and Alfriston areas.

"We know he certainly would come and visit them, he gets his lackies to drive him around," said Mr Pearson.

He warned that anyone caught helping the fugitive, both family and gang members, could face criminal charges.

Can you help?

If you have information about the whereabouts of Graham Te Awa, contact Detective Brendon Pearson at the Papakura CIB on 09 295 0256 or anonymously through Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111. Information will be treated as confidential.

- NZ Herald

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