A manhunt is underway after two police officers were held at gunpoint and their police car stolen in Ohakune last night.
Police believe the car thief is Tama Michael Rawhiti, a 33-year-old man from Marton. He has at least one gun and should not be approached, police say.
The officers had stopped a vehicle in Wye St for a breath test at about 10.20pm and were talking to the driver when a man who was partly hidden in the back seat got out and pointed a gun at them, Whanganui Area Commander Inspector Nigel Allan said in a statement this morning.
While holding them at gunpoint the man, and another female passenger, got into the patrol car and drove away.
The police car crashed into a gatepost not long after and the pair fled on foot.
The officers jumped into the car they had stopped and were able to find and recover the car, Allan said.
"Nothing was taken from the patrol car while in the possession of the offender. It sustained minor damage.
"Neither the offender nor the passenger were located at the time."
Police believe the offender is Tama Michael Rawhiti, a 33-year-old man from Marton.
"Rawhiti is currently the subject of a parole recall warrant and is aware police are actively seeking him," Allan said.
"He has recent links to Marton, Whanganui and Hawera and is believed to be travelling extensively across the North Island."
Rawhiti is believed to be in possession of at least one firearm and should not be approached, Allan said.
"Our staff acted with considerable courage in a very challenging situation.
"The offender's behaviour last night indicates he poses a significant risk and we are working hard to locate him and bring him safely into custody."
Police in Ohakune had been hunting for Rawhiti overnight but have not found him, Allan said. People could expect to see more police than normal in the area today as the manhunt continued.
"The public can be assured that police are doing all they can to locate Rawhiti and to ensure safety in our community."
Anyone with information that might help police find Rawhiti should call 105 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. If you see him do not approach him and call 111 immediately, Allan said.