It was a sunny afternoon on Fathers' Day September 1, 2019 when a drugged-out Mongrel Mob member with a face full of tattoos jumped out of a car at a busy Rotorua intersection with a large gun and opened fire on a police officer. Bullet fragments hit a nearby taxi driver. The agitated mobster carjacked a Pāpāmoa woman at gunpoint and drove off in her car before demanding a second vehicle from a mum who was in the front yard of her Te Ngae Rd home with her young daughter. Three victims of Te Kuti Tahana's violent rampage open up publicly for the first time to journalist Kelly Makiha.
"Give me the ****** keys or I'll pop you."
Adele Hubbard heard the words from the scary Mongrel Mob gang member - Te Kuti Tahana - pointing a gun at her and thought the worst.
"What went through my mind is 'oh no, my daughter is going to see me be shot'."
The mum had been cleaning her parents' white Ford Ranger ute in the front yard of their Te Ngae Rd house while her 4-year-old daughter played in the garden nearby.
Her 1-year-old daughter and parents were in a nearby sleepout.
She looked up to the sound of flapping flat tyres and saw a car clipping the front fence.
"He got out of the car and was saying, 'They got me sis' - then he leant into the car and pulled out his rifle."
Trembling in fear, she tried to remain calm for the sake of her kids.
"I did think it was going to be my last day."
Carefully walking backwards, she tried to keep an eye on where her daughter was playing only metres away in a garden.
She told Tahana the keys were on the passenger seat of the Ford but he became agitated when he couldn't find them under all the cleaning equipment she'd left on the seat.
Calmly she told him, "It's okay, I'll get the spare set". She walked carefully to the sleepout and he followed her with the gun pointed at her.
She opened the door slightly, so he couldn't see in and her parents, who were inside, couldn't see out.
Her father heard the door and called out, "What are you doing, hon?" but Hubbard remained calm and said: "Nothing, just grabbing the keys."
She shut the door and gently told her daughter, who was staring at Tahana, "Go inside, baby".
She threw Tahana the keys but he got more agitated when, in his drugged-out state, he couldn't work out how to press the button to make the key pop up.
He finally got it to work but Hubbard noticed the passenger door on the ute was still open so she ran around to close it for him, fearing he could get more agitated if he crashed again or wiped the door off.
"He was yelling at me, 'What the **** are you doing?' And I told him, 'Just closing the door, just closing the door, it's all right'."
He reversed out and Hubbard and her family were safe. She found her petrified daughter hiding in a wardrobe.
Just two days before, on August 30, 2019, Tahana had been granted bail in Hamilton District Court on aggravated robbery charges.
A police summary stated he stole a car and petrol from a service station in Hamilton the next day.
The following day, September 1, about 2.10pm he was seen in Rotorua driving the stolen car on Te Ngae Rd towards the central city. Police tried to pull him over but he turned and went down Vaughan Rd.
Tahana drove at more than 100km/h and crossed to the wrong side of the road as he passed a large sporting event at Puketawhero Park.
He turned back on Te Ngae Rd and drove at speed either on the wrong side of the road or overtaking vehicles using the left-hand shoulder.
Police gave up the chase because it was too dangerous.
Police saw the stolen car again on Te Ngae Rd approaching the intersection with Iles Rd about 5.30pm. This time someone else was driving and Tahana was a passenger.
The police officer did a u-turn to get behind it. The line-up at the lights was the stolen car, a member of the public's car, the police car and then a taxi.
Lynmore Primary School is on one side of the intersection and a BP service station and Motion Entertainment family complex are on the other side.
As the stolen car stopped, Tahana got out armed with a .270 calibre hunting rifle with a telescopic scope and shouted, "You wanna ****** chase me?" the summary of facts said.
He lifted the rifle to his shoulder, took aim at the constable in the patrol car and fired one round.
The bullet missed but struck the driver's side of the front windshield of the taxi. As it penetrated the windshield and entered the cabin of the taxi, shrapnel and bullet fragments struck the right shoulder of the taxi driver.
After the shot was fired, the driver of the stolen car sped off, leaving Tahana standing alone at the lights holding his weapon.
Taxi driver amazed he is alive
The taxi driver, who spoke to the Rotorua Daily Post Weekend on condition of anonymity due to safety fears, had just finished his last job of the day dropping pilots to Rotorua Airport when the drama unfolded at the lights.
After his windscreen smashed, he felt something in his shoulder. He knew he had been shot but oddly did not feel any pain.
"I couldn't feel anything, it was numb. There was a lot of blood but I wasn't sure where it was coming from."
With his left hand, he managed to turn the taxi and drive into Lynmore Junction where he knew people who worked at a restaurant there.
"I went in there and said to the guy 'take me to hospital'."
He suffered deep wounds to his shoulder and needed surgery and a cut to his cheek.
"I'm amazed I'm alive."
Terrifying carjacking ordeal
A Pāpāmoa woman, who also feared being publicly named, said she had just visited her ex-boyfriend's house on Iles Rd and was heading towards the intersection of Iles and Te Ngae Rds when she rang her dad to wish him happy Father's Day.
She had him on Bluetooth speaker and the pair were chatting about their days as she stopped at the lights. The woman saw the patched gang member get out of a car with what looked like a massive rifle.
"He was wearing his patch, full Mongrel Mob gears ... the gun was massive, from his shoulder down to the ground. He points it at the cop and was yelling at the cop, then he starts shooting.
"I screamed. I remember to the left of me there was a school with families and kids were playing on the court and I remember him shooting the gun and the people on the court just dropping like pancakes to the ground."
When the driver of Tahana's car took off, Tahana looked straight over to the woman and started running towards her.
"I said, 'oh my God, he's coming towards me'. Then I heard my father say, 'what's going on?'"
Petrified, she tried to duck down behind her dash in case he open fired towards her.
"I thought 'this is it, he's going to ****** shoot me. If he's going to shoot a cop, he will shoot at anyone'. I kept hearing my dad on the speaker saying, 'What's going on?' Then I heard my mum in the background too and I sensed her worry and fears."
Next thing, she looked up and Tahana was at her driver's window.
His face was so darkly covered in tattoos, she thought at first he had a beard.
"He was so ugly and by ugly I mean his demeanour."
He yanked open her door while holding the gun and said: "Get the **** out of the car."
Her body froze but she processed her options in her mind. If she got out, she would be near the gun and she opted not to speed forward or back in case he opened fire.
He pointed the gun again at the police officer and started shooting, with the ricochets and debris of the bullets shattering her front windscreen.
The shots again missed the police officer but struck the patrol vehicle on the passenger side. They penetrated and entered the taxi's cabin, coming to rest inside the taxi.
"He turned back around to me and said 'move over' as he was pushing me to the passenger side."
She manoeuvred over the centre console as he got in the driver's side.
"He was driving off with me in the car. Everyone had scattered. It was like a movie scene. Everyone was running."
She then locked eyes with the police officer as they passed him going around the intersection and the reality of what was happening sank in.
Just at the right time, she heard her father's voice over the speaker. He said: "You need to take a deep breath and talk to me so I know how to help you."
It was the calming voice she needed to make a brave move.
"Clutching my phone to my chest, I opened the door and jumped out of the moving car and ended up landing on the ground in the gutter."
Tahana sped off down Te Ngae Rd.
"It felt like a zombie apocalypse. People were running towards me to see if I was okay and wanting to hug me. I freaked out because I didn't know them and didn't want anyone near me."
She heard the voice of her ex-boyfriend's brother, who had also been parked at the intersection and witnessed everything.
"He ran towards me saying my name and gave me a big bear hug. For me to hear my name and see someone I knew and have him grab me like that, I just crumbled crying."
Tahana's dramatic run continues
After Tahana stole the Pāpāmoa woman's Toyota Corolla, he sped off along Te Ngae Rd. As he did, he mounted the raised median and punctured both front tyres.
When the car couldn't be driven any more, he pulled into Adele Hubbard's home, where he stole her parents' Ford Ranger at gunpoint.
He continued speeding towards Whakatāne and police caught up with him.
It was now dark but he was driving without headlights. His driving was erratic and he crossed the centreline several times.
As he approached the eastern end of Lake Rotomā, he turned around and started heading back towards Rotorua.
He was being followed by several police cars, who tried to get him to stop.
He reached speeds of up to 135km/h and at one point, veered to the right and was driving on the opposite grass shoulder, bouncing through a ditch before returning to the road.
His tyres were successfully spiked by police, forcing the ute to slow down.
Tahana turned into a property at Ruato Bay at Lake Rotoiti. The property was full of visitors gathered to celebrate Father's Day.
Tahana's arrest was captured on video by those there, who were screaming in fear to their children to get inside.
The court case
Tahana pleaded guilty to a raft of charges and was sentenced in Hamilton District Court on March 22 to 11 years and six months' jail. He has a non-parole period of five years and eight months.
Given he was in custody leading up to his sentencing, he has already served more than two years.
At earlier court appearances, Tahana refused to speak in court. He also wouldn't communicate with his lawyer at the time.
Adele Hubbard made the brave decision to face him in court on the day of his sentencing.
She told the Rotorua Daily Post Weekend she needed to look him in the eye and tell him what he had done to her and her daughter.
"I didn't want to be scared of him or him to have that hold over me or my whānau. If I feel stronger, it portrays down to my children."
She had been to earlier court appearances and saw his demeanour not communicating with anyone but on the day of sentencing, he was different.
"I was asked if I wanted to read my victim impact statement and I said yes because I didn't want to miss the opportunity if I had the courage to do so.
"I had security guards around me and that made me a little bit nervous."
When she laid eyes on Tahana, she said her heart started pounding.
"It gave me sort of chills and flashbacks of when it happened and my stomach was churning. But I'm so glad I did it. I'm so glad I stood there and looked him in the eye and told him how much fear and hurt he had created for me and my whānau and how his actions have impacted on my daughter's life and all of our lives.
"It gave me a sense of pride and a sense of mana facing him."
She said the unexpected happened and she sensed his remorse.
"He looked at me and hit his hand on his chest and said and mouthed the words 'I'm sorry'."
She said when it was Tahana's turn to speak, he spoke really well.
"He said to me, 'Whaea, I'm so sorry for what I have done to you and your whānau and especially your baby." He said he wasn't in the right frame of mind that day.
"I believed him ... I just hope that when the time comes and he comes out that he changes that cycle."
The lasting impact
The shot taxi driver is now back working but he will only do one night a week and he still fears people who he thinks might be trouble.
He said working nights was always more lucrative for taxi drivers but he didn't want to put himself too much at risk with drunk or drugged customers, so would only do one night a week.
"Sometimes I get nervous when I see gang members."
In the weeks following the shooting, he and his partner were booked to fly home to India for their wedding.
Despite just having surgery and still being in a lot of pain, they couldn't change their plans.
"It was really hard telling my family in India what happened. After the wedding, they didn't want us to go back."
He has three scars, one on his cheek and two on his shoulder. The pain has gone now but sometimes comes back on cold days.
The Pāpāmoa woman who was carjacked feels she finally has put it behind her.
"I'm quite a motivated and positive person so if s*** comes into my life, it's only temporary and it's not going to define me."
In some ways, she was grateful it happened to her and not someone who couldn't handle it like a mother with children or an elderly person.
She said she focused on the fact that what happened was out of her control.
"It happened because he was a gang member and that's the life he chose. He was high on drugs and wasn't coherent."
She said her mother had noticed that since that day, she had taken care of herself better in terms of health and wellbeing but that wasn't something she had noticed herself.
"Maybe I was thinking I have this second chance at life. Maybe that's the thought that's gone through my head without noticing because to be honest, I am grateful to be here."
Adele Hubbard says she doesn't hate Tahana.
"We all make mistakes. We are human and it's a matter of learning from them and changing."
Hubbard has been able to heal through traditional Māori massage practices of mirimiri and romiromi, which stimulates muscles to release trauma.
It's a practice she does for a job and but this time, she was the patient receiving the benefit.
"I just felt like it helped contribute to a huge weight lifting off my shoulders."
It's taken her a long time to feel safe again and immediately after it happened she didn't even want to go outside.
"He invaded our safe haven, this is our home."
The healing process has been hard on her daughter but she knows time will make it better.
"Still to this day it still affects her and I've got counselling for her. Sometimes she will pop up: 'Mummy, why did that man have the gun to your head?'"