A 26-year-old man who "drove like a maniac" to evade police has appeared in the Opotiki District Court this morning.

Joshua Strickland, 26, of Gisborne pleaded guilty to theft, failing to stop and dangerous driving. He was remanded in custody to appear in the Whakatane District Court on February 7 for sentencing.

The charges follow an incident on Wednesday morning where the man fled from police after he was suspected to have driven off without paying for petrol.

When the driver refused to stop, police gave pursuit and a constable was hit as he was laying road spikes at the intersection of State Highway 30 and Kope Drain Rd in Awakeri.

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The police officer was flown to Waikato Hospital, where he remains with serious leg injuries.

The court heard how the three charges spanned incidents from Opotiki to Taneatua, including the serious driving incident in Whakatane.

Judge Louis Bidois said Strickland had made a determined effort to evade police for a relatively minor matter when he should have been able to pay for tobacco.

"He then drove like a maniac to get away from police."