The Wellington taxi driver shot in the shoulder last weekend was already afraid of his passengers' erratic behaviour before the attack.

Alem Tessema said the passengers were "hiding" in the back seats of the taxi wearing sunglasses when he was driving them from Courtenay Place to Miramar on Saturday night.

They made Tessema drive in circles around Miramar before telling him where to drop them, he told the Herald.

"I [was] just thinking ... what I'm going to do now? Wherever we go, then he's telling me right, left, right."

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Taxi driver Alem Tessema is recovering at home after being shot by a passenger on Saturday night. Photo/Melissa Nightingale
Taxi driver Alem Tessema is recovering at home after being shot by a passenger on Saturday night. Photo/Melissa Nightingale

When they finally gave him an address to stop at, Tessema said the pair got out of the car without paying. He never chases people for their fare, for his own safety.

"I never chase no one about the money ... all my time in taxi. The money is come, is go, it doesn't bother me, money, at all. Someone run I don't follow them at all."

But then the male passenger, believed to be 26-year-old Dylan Nuku, came around to the driver's side of the car and pointed a pistol at Tessema.

"He tell me 'get off the car, get off the car' and then same times he shoot me in here. I just drive out because that's only option for me to survive ... if I didn't do that I would be dying.

"I'm very lucky I didn't get shot in my head."

Tessema didn't realise he'd actually been hit until he touched his shoulder and discovered he was bleeding everywhere.

He pulled into a nearby petrol station where two women rushed to his aid.

"Those women, for me, they are angels, really."

The women went to visit Tessema in hospital, along with friends, co-workers, and members of the Ethiopian community in Wellington.

While the support has been "awesome", Tessema is still bewildered about the attack.

"He didn't give any excuse or anything at all. Someone you never know before, you never seen in life, they're gunning you. What for? I don't know this guy, never seen in my life, really. I never done anything wrong to him."

He has been driving taxis since 2004 and had never been attacked by any passengers before.

Tessema said he won't go back to driving a taxi after the incident, but is not sure yet what he will do instead.

He believes all taxis must have cameras and panic buttons, and police must respond immediately to incidents reported by taxi drivers.

"If police responding straight away for taxi drivers you know it would be good work."

Police have searched a number of properties in the hunt for Nuku and have urged him to hand himself in.

Anyone who sees him should not approach as he is considered armed and dangerous. They should call 111 immediately.