A man has escaped police custody while at Rotorua Hospital today, making him the fourth escaper this week that police are now hunting.

Levi Parekuka escaped from Rotorua Police custody shortly after 4pm.

He had been arrested earlier in the day on outstanding warrants.

Cordons were set up in the area where Parekuka was last seen and a search is under way.


Earlier this week, police admitted they did not follow best practice after three inmates overpowered a guard and escaped from the Levin courthouse.

A large manhunt is under way for the men who are still at large.

Wiremu Eparaima, Te Wera Hemara and Emmanuel Witana escaped while being placed in transport at Levin District Court about 5.40pm on Wednesday when a fourth man restrained a police officer, allowing the trio to flee.

Commander Inspector Sarah Stewart told reporters yesterday she did not know whether the prisoners had been handcuffed at the time.

The group had been in court on various charges relating to violence and driving offences.

The prisoners had been inside Levin District Court and then moved to a transport vehicle inside an internal garage, Stewart said.

One offender pressed an emergency lever to open the roller door sufficiently for him to escape under.

Another offender then held on to the officer and the other two were able to also leave through the garage door.


The trio then ran towards a supermarket, got into a member of the public's vehicle and made him drive towards northwest Levin, before fleeing on foot.

A brother of one of the three men has called on them to hand themselves in.

Rotorua police encourage the community to be aware after the latest escape and report any suspicious activity by calling 111 immediately.

Information can also be reported to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Meanwhile, police have announced a national review of custody and transport of prisoners after two high profile escapes this week. Police Commissioner Mike Bush said police had launched a national review of the custody and transport of prisoners by police.

"Our staff go to work every day to keep the community safe and I want to be sure that the procedures and policies we have in place in regard to the custody and transport of prisoners is fit for purpose and mitigates the risks both to staff and the public," Bush said.

"Police manage tens of thousands of prisoner movements every year and generally these are completed without incident. When something does go wrong we need to learn from it and where appropriate make changes so that it does not happen again."

Terms of Reference for the review would be developed early next week.