More details have emerged about a dramatic police chase involving a helicopter, a police dog and a mangrove swamp that led to the arrest of a man accused of robbing Paihia's 70-year-old town custodian.
Police gave little away at the time but Paihia residents reported seeing large numbers of police, some with road spikes, and the Eagle helicopter circling over a bush area on the morning of Saturday, April 9.
The search was related to an assault on Focus Paihia's town caretaker, Henare Rapana, on Marsden Rd about 3.30am on April 8.
Rapana suffered cuts and bruises and his station wagon, keys, cellphone and wallet were taken.
One of the alleged attackers was quickly identified thanks to Paihia's new state-of-the-art CCTV system, with the information passed to police later that morning.
Northland police have now revealed, through a post on their Facebook page, what happened next.
Early the following morning police were alerted when the suspect's car was seen near Haruru Falls.
The vehicle allegedly drove off at speed when police tried to stop it, sparking a search on land and from the air with the help of the Eagle helicopter.
The car was found dumped at the end of an isolated road. Police dog handlers tracked the vehicle's occupants to a large mangrove area, where they found footprints leading through deep mud into the water.
One of the two occupants was located by the Eagle crew trying to hide in the mangroves.
A short time later, police units on the ground searching for the second occupant stopped a vehicle near Te Haumi.
When they searched the vehicle they found the driver of the car dumped at Haruru hiding in the boot.
He was arrested and charged with aggravated robbery as well as a number of other offences.
It is believed the car was stopped at the corner of Tohitapu Rd and Kowhai Cres, a significant distance from where the suspect's car was first spotted.
The entire operation took just under four hours.
Senior Sergeant Brian Swann, who was co-ordinating police communications during the search, earlier told the Advocate the officers involved had shown great tenacity and determination.
■ Dillon Jos Taituha, 31, of Kings Rd in Paihia, appeared in the Kaikohe District Court last Monday. [April 11]. He was remanded in custody and is due back in court on May 3. As well as aggravated robbery, he faces charges of kidnapping another man, also in Paihia on April 8, and robbing that man of an eftpos card, cigarettes and cellphone. A fourth charge was for unlawful taking of a Mitsubishi ute worth $20,000 from Waiwera on March 26. Police say further charges may follow.