A major manhunt involving dozens of armed police, dogs and a helicopter ended with the arrest of a gang member on the Karikari Peninsula yesterday.

It is believed the operation began with a sighting of Rawden "Big Boy" Yates about 10am.

Police said they had been seeking to locate the 35-year-old for some time.

They are also appealing for recent sightings of the vehicle he was found in and is believed to have been using in recent days - a Nissan Patrol 4x4, registration TQ2892.


Members of the armed offenders squad, some of whom arrived by police helicopter, descended on the area between Karikari and Taipa in Doubtless Bay.

Police carrying M4 rifles set up a road block at the intersection of Inland Rd, the main road on Karikari Peninsula leading to Maitai Bay, and Lake Ohia Rd, just off State Highway 10. Police stopped all vehicles entering and leaving the peninsula, talking to drivers and in some cases searching car boots.

AOS officers, dressed in black and with their faces covered by balaclavas, could be seen on Lake Ohia Rd beyond the police road block. Road spikes were ready in case anyone tried to flee and a police helicopter could be seen buzzing overhead. Police at the scene were keeping tight-lipped about who they were looking for.

More AOS members and armed police were stopping cars on Aurere Beach Rd a few kilometres further east. Police bosses set up a command centre and a refuelling base for the helicopter at Matthews Vintage Museum on SH10.

About 3.40pm police converged on Dick Urlich Rd, which leads to the Karikari Peninsula's Tokerau Beach, where a man was arrested without incident.

A resident living on Inland Rd said she had been stopped by police on her way home from a trip to Kaitaia.

There had been lots of police in the area over the past few weeks but seeing so many armed officers was still frightening.

"When the police are standing there with their guns it brings home just how serious it is," the pensioner said.

"The guys all dressed in black with their faces covered holding guns, it's quiet scary."

After the Inland Rd checkpoint she saw another eight police cars and more armed officers.

"If you lived in America or Australia you might be used to this sort of police activity, but not here."

She was relieved to hear an arrest had had been made.