In the early morning darkness Northland couple Mark Ottaway and his wife Pam pursued a stolen tractor along State Highway 1.

Mark was driving while Pam, the passenger, was on the phone to police giving regular updates.

But forget dangerous speeds in excess of 100km/h by the fleeing vehicle.

It was a more leisurely paced affair with the 25 horse-powered Kubota B2710 tractor, fixed with a grader blade and counter weights on the front, only able to reach a top speed of 12km/h.


After a 90 minute low speed chase, that eventually involved three police vehicles, the tractor driver was tasered and handcuffed on the footpath in Wellsford — 20km from the pursuit start point. Normally the trip down State Highway 1 in a car takes abut 24 minutes.

The orange-coloured Kubota was stolen from a shed at the Kaiwaka Sports Association complex, where Mark works as the groundsman and is the club's vice chairman, just after midnight yesterday .

The Kubota tractor with a grader blade and counter weights on the front could only reach a top speed of 12kmh in a pursuit on SH1. PHOTO/ Supplied
The Kubota tractor with a grader blade and counter weights on the front could only reach a top speed of 12kmh in a pursuit on SH1. PHOTO/ Supplied

Police have confirmed a 15-year-old boy had been referred to police youth aid section on a number of allegations in relation to the alleged theft and chase.

With the tractor safely back in the shed by 11am the same day, Mark revealed the details of what could possibly be New Zealand's slowest police pursuit.

It was just after midnight when fire sirens sounded at the brigade just down the road and the couple were woken. The fire crew were call to a fire at Mangawhai.

Pam went to the lounge room window and coincidentally happened to see the tractor driving by and asked her husband did his tractor have a blade on the back.

He immediately knew it was his tractor and after a quick check of the shed at the sports club they were hot on the trail of the fleeing tractor.

"When we caught up he had the lights on and the hazards going but he was only going 12km/h," Mark said.


"We followed him and then leap frogged ahead because I was worried he might shoot off down a side road."

It was at the passing lanes just north of Te Hana that a police vehicle joined the fray.

"There were lights and sirens and he still wouldn't pull over. He was swerving all over the road at some points."

Another two police vehicles joined and eventually managed to stop the chase in Wellsford where police had prepared to spike the tractor wheels. However, an officer tasered the driver.

A resident living along the state highway said he heard sirens and went to the window to look.

"Normally when you hear the sirens they whip passed here at speed but the sirens just kept coming and coming. They didn't seem to be moving," he said.

"Then I saw flashing lights and someone on a little tractor. The next thing police tasered him and he was on the ground and they handcuffed him."

Arriving on the scene not far behind the action, Mark was happy to see the tractor, which the club has used for up to 15 years, was not damaged. He rang a mate with a truck and had the tractor delivered back to Kaiwaka.