An alleged carjacker who led police on a lengthy pursuit – crashing three different vehicles and injuring four innocent members of the public – was arrested by armed police this morning.
The man was stopped by police on the Kāpiti expressway north of Wellington after a chaotic chase from Porirua.
The pursuit began about 7.30am, when the man is accused of attacking a person and stealing their vehicle, leaving them with facial injuries.
The man then travelled north on State Highway One, crashing several vehicles and stealing more in his escape attempt, police said.
One woman on social media said her friend was one of the carjacking victims.
Jan McKenzie-Laurence said on Facebook the pursued driver had crashed the BMW at the Poplar Ave roundabout, got out of his car and physically hauled her friend out of her Honda CRV while she was stopped at the give way, then sped off in it.
Kāpiti woman Aura Bailey-Guest told NZME the man tried to pull her partner out of the car to steal it, but was fought off.
She said they saw a car crashed near the Kāpiti expressway at Poplar Avenue and pulled over to see what was happening.
"Then some guy comes running up to the car so we open the door and he tried to rip my partner out of the car and steal my car," she said.
They kicked him away and the man tried to get into three cars behind them but the drivers locked their doors.
"He finally got into a car and drove off."
Bailey-Guest said she was trained in traffic control, so "chucked on her hi-vis vest" and started controlling the traffic that had backed up from the ordeal.
She said she was "in shock" afterwards and it was "very crazy" to experience.
Police eventually used road spikes on the fleeing car, bringing it to a stop on State Highway One near Peka Peka about 9.30am.
Sefulu Nafatali was sitting in a truck when he heard the sirens and saw an unmarked police car ram it, bringing it to a stop.
Nafatali thought it was just a car accident until he saw police pulling rifles from the trunks of their cars.
"They approached him with rifles and he just gave up straight away," he said.
Police said a man, 25, is now in custody and will appear in the Porirua District Court tomorrow.
Four people were injured in the saga, as they were robbed of their cars in Poplar Ave and the Raumati Beach shopping area. Another woman was rear-ended as she sat in her car.
Witness Jacinda Thorn was cycling home along Kāpiti Rd after dropping her daughter off at school when she heard "a lot of sirens" and decided to get off her bike and move to the side of the road.
"I saw the grey Honda come screaming past - probably, I estimate, around 90 kilometres an hour," she said, noting the area had a 50km/h limit and was "really busy" with morning traffic.
The Honda weaved across the centre line before coming back on to the correct side of the road.
"About two seconds later there was a couple of marked police cars that came after it."
Thorn said she was glad she hadn't been on the road at the time the Honda sped past.
"The speed he was going, I'm surprised he didn't hit anyone."
The Honda CRV was found crashed into a fence in Rimu Rd.
Another witness said he saw several police cars travelling at high speed, pursuing a vehicle north along the Kāpiti Expressway.
The pursuit has come to end just north of the Peka Peka on-ramp.
The vehicle at the centre of the pursuit, an SUV, had been wedged between two cars against the wire median barrier.
The vehicle has chalk or some sort of writing on the windscreen as if just newly arrived or from an auction house, the witness said.
A Rutherford & Bond Toyota Kāpiti spokesperson confirmed a vehicle had been taken from their yard in Ihakara St, around the corner from Rimu Rd where the Honda CRV was found.
Raumati Beach school principal Mike Farrelly said he saw about six police cars pursuing another driver past his school during morning drop off.
"The speeds were pretty excessive and they put a real fright into the kids on road patrol as well."
Farrelly said the children on road patrol duty were feeling a little uneasy but they talked through what happened and are now feeling okay and back in class now.
He said it was fortunate no accident happened.
"Usually at that time in the morning ... there are a lot of kids going across that crossing."