'Dangerous' prisoners on the run

Police are looking for Ihaka Kawana (left) and Taneti Karaitiana (right). Photo / NZ police
Police are looking for Ihaka Kawana (left) and Taneti Karaitiana (right). Photo / NZ police

Two dangerous criminals wanted by police are on the loose in New Zealand in relation to two separate incidents.

Waikato Police are looking for Taneti Karaitiana, 21 years old, wanted in relation to two warrants to arrest in relation to serious violence, firearms and sexual offences, and breach of court release conditions.

He has 'MMM' tattooed on his forehead, and a bulldog tattoo on each side of his face.

Police announced they were seeking Karaitiana shortly after news broke that 22-year-old Ihaka Kawana had escaped from police custody this morning - for the second time in six months.

Kawana is Maori, 176cm tall and wearing a brown T-shirt and black jeans.

He was last seen heading in the direction of Queen's Gardens in Nelson.

Karaitiana's current whereabouts were unknown, police said, but he is known to have links to Hamilton and Kawerau.

Both men were considered dangerous and should not be approached.

Police spokeswoman Barbara Dunn said Kawana escaped today from the Nelson Police station however she said the circumstances of his escape will form part of a police internal investigation and she could not comment further until the investigation was complete.

This is the second time Kawana has escaped custody in the last six months.

He escaped from Nelson District Court on the evening of October 5 last year before being caught by police the next morning at a Nelson address.

Kawana has a history of involvement with police stretching back until at least 2011, when he was 17 years old.

He was sentenced to 60 hours community service in October 2011 after his involvement in a street fight where he wielded a pair of vice grips at a fight between two groups on a Nelson street .

In Nelson District Court he admitted charges of disorderly behaviour likely to cause violence, and possessing an offensive weapon, Fairfax reported at the time.

Four years later Kawana was at the Nelson District Court again, charged with robbery and aggravated robbery of a Nelson dairy.

The man working at the diary at the time of the two attacks, just five days apart in May 2014, told the court he thought he would die after being threatened with a knife before Kawana and an accomplice stole cash and tobacco, Fairfax reported last year.

Bassant Bhatta was the sole shopkeeper on May 4 2014 when the men entered the Victoria Square dairy and physically threatened him.

Mr Bhatta said Kawana was angry and raised his fist at him, before stealing tobacco from a cabinet.

Five days later the men returned and this time one of them had a knife.

"It was very scary. My whole body shook. It happened all of a sudden. I thought I would die," Mr Bhatta said.

He described the knife as being long and serrated and said one of the men pointed it at him and said "[I'll] Kill you."

Anyone with information on Karaitiana's whereabouts should contact their nearest police station and anyone who saw Kawana should call 11 immediately, police advised.

Information can also be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

- NZ Herald

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