Bay of Plenty siege: Alleged gunman's mother says family still loves him

By Regan Schoultz, Belinda Fleek

The mother of alleged gunman Rhys Warren says the family "still love our son".

Warren was arrested this morning after a 22-hour stand-off with police, during which four officers were shot.

Warren's mother, Renee Wetini, told the New Zealand Herald her son was "clearer" in his head, and would have been "scared" yesterday.


"He's a bit clearer in his head, he would have been scared yesterday, frightened... with the helicopters and everything."

She said the siege's peaceful end could serve as a lesson for others. The family had wanted to be involved from the outset and if they had not, the outcome could have been "devastating."

"We still love our son and we're very happy with the outcome. This is what we wanted all along. We felt that we couldn't do it without the whanau intervention. We believe that maybe police will be able to use this as an example ...

rather than going in guns blazing.

"We've got a big bridge to get over, it's the next hope. But our first step was to try and get involvement ... through discussions and negotiations with top level MPs and also down to police."

Warren surrendered after negotiations led by Taupo police area commander Inspector Warwick Morehu.

"It is very good to have this result, obviously we don't know what happened yesterday, it is very scary," Ms Wetini said. "I feel for the police and their families."

She said the family now had "a big bridge to get over".

Speaking just minutes before Warren was arrested, the family's spokeswoman Ripeke Lessels said that the family felt they had been left out of police efforts to end the siege.

"It's been traumatic being in a position that the whanau believe could have been avoided had the police taken some time to find another way that may have included tikanga Maori and the whanau involvement.

The whanau remained at the cordon all night for fear that their son would be shot by the police and continued to request involvement including allowing whanau to help extract him from the house, she said.

The information given to them was "pretty spasmodic and somewhat misleading" leaving the whanau often disgruntled.

"The whanau are convinced that the police way is not the only way. Dialogue with the whanau is important to ensure amicable outcomes for all whanau in situations like this."

Mr Morehu went into the cordon to collect their son alongside the armed forces.

This had been a process the whanau had wanted, that Warwick be allowed to go in and collect him, she said.

At about 11am yesterday, police rushed to the rural Bay of Plenty farm after shots were fired at a police helicopter searching for cannabis crops.

Warren's cousin Rachel Pereniki, who was among the family members camped outside the police cordon overnight, said he had been texting her. The last text message from him was at 10.41pm. She said, in that message, he said he wanted to come out but wanted her to go and get him.

Last night as the road was cordoned off, a woman, believed to know the man, yelled at police: "They want to shoot him, that's why they won't let us in."

She shouted angrily: "I want us to be able to go in and get him. He is not going to shoot at us. You fellas [police] are going to go in there with your guns and protect yourselves. I want these guys [two men with her] to help me go and get him out."

Warren's mother told media overnight that she feared her son would be "coming out in a box".

"He's scared," she said. "He knows what he's done and that's it for him."

- NZ Herald

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