Simon Plumb is a journalist for the Herald on Sunday

Police injured in Kawerau siege shooting named

Armed police stand guard during the Kawerau as the siege. Photo / Nick Reed
Armed police stand guard during the Kawerau as the siege. Photo / Nick Reed

Name suppression has been lifted on four police officers who received gunshot injuries in a Bay of Plenty stand-off.

Alleged gunman Rhys Warren is facing two charges of attempted murder and five charges of using a firearm against a law enforcement officer after a two-day siege at a farmhouse near Kawerau in March.

This afternoon the four police Warren is charged with wounding can be named as Sergeant Logan Marsh, Constable Regan Mauheni, Constable Andrew Flinn and Constable Damian White.

Name suppression has also been lifted on a fifth officer, referred to in the judgment as Constable Ure, who was also shot at but evaded gunfire.

Rhys Richard Ngahiwi Warren appears in the Whakatane District Court. Photo / Alan Gibson
Rhys Richard Ngahiwi Warren appears in the Whakatane District Court. Photo / Alan Gibson

Court documents also reveal the physical and emotional injuries police sustained in the line of duty, including Mauheni who suffered a brain injury and is still recovering at home.

White received shrapnel and burn injuries to his face as well as an injury to his right hand which required surgery. Marsh received a significant injury to his right index finger. He has had to undergo a series of surgical procedures while he and has family are still dealing with the effects of the incident.

Flinn suffered a serious injury to his left knee, requiring surgery to remove shrapnel.

While Ure escaped uninjured, it was noted "he thinks about what happened every day."

All five wanted the interim name suppression order to continue, their concerns including ongoing recovery and future safety at work being compromised if their identities were made public.

Army were called in to assist police during the siege. Photo / Nick Reed
Army were called in to assist police during the siege. Photo / Nick Reed

In making the judgement to lift the suppression order Judge Brewer declared sympathy for the group, but did not agree that transparency over who they were "would be likely to cause them undue hardship". The judge also stated pre-trial orders would lapse on the first day of Warren's trial.

"The complainants did their duty on behalf of the public in a very dangerous situation. Four of them were wounded. I cannot imagine that this will not be recognised by the news media," Brewer ruled.

The ruling also stated White's 9-year-old daughter had not been told the full circumstances of what happened to her father, on the grounds White believed it would be "detrimental to her emotional and psychological wellbeing".

Police Commissioner Superintendent Mike Bush fronts media along with Taupo police area commander Warwick Morehu. Photo / Nick Reed
Police Commissioner Superintendent Mike Bush fronts media along with Taupo police area commander Warwick Morehu. Photo / Nick Reed

The two-day siege, which started on March 9, triggered a massive police and military operation, including the scrambling of a defence helicopter, heavily armed Special Tactics Group officers, Defence Force personnel, the Armed Offenders Squad and light armoured vehicles.

Along with cordons at either end of Onepu Springs Rd at the site of the siege, police also imposed a no-fly zone over the immediate area.

Lengthy negotiations with Warren resulted in Taupo area commander Inspector Warwick Morehu being hailed a hero for his part in the negotiations which led to the 27-year-old's arrest.

Police arrive with ammunition at the siege. Photo / Nick Reed
Police arrive with ammunition at the siege. Photo / Nick Reed

On the day of the incident, Prime Minister John Key tweeted "my thoughts are with the officers injured in Kawerau today and with their families and colleagues" while Minister of Police Judith Collins also took to social media to praise those who brought the situation under control.

"Our @nzpolice do an amazing job. It is dangerous work & needs brave men & women. I am so proud of our Police," Collins said on Twitter.

Warren has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The charges carry a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

In a statement released after the suppression orders were lifted, Inspector Kevin Taylor - Bay of Plenty operations support manager - said the officers were "hugely grateful for the many messages of support from the community and across New Zealand that they have received since this incident."

"While they understand the public and media interest in these events, and respect the decision of the court, they wish to make it very clear to all media that they and their families do not wish to be interviewed or approached for comment at what continues to be a very difficult time.

"They again make an appeal for all media organisations to please show restraint and respect their privacy, as they just want to focus on recovering and getting on with their jobs, while sparing their children and other family members from further media scrutiny.

"Also given that there are a large number of ongoing investigations into these events, including live court matters, they consider it is not appropriate to comment further at this time."

Police did not refer to the officers by name in the statement and declined a request to confirm the full name of Constable Ure.

But Taylor paid credit to the professionalism of his staff.

"I remain very proud of all five officers and of the many other Police staff that put themselves at risk to keep the community safe during this incident, and as the court has acknowledged, who did their duty on the public's behalf in what was a very dangerous and volatile situation," he said.

"In the meantime, the Police family will continue to support all of the officers as they recover and rebuild their lives."

Taylor's statement requested privacy for the officers.

- NZ Herald

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