22 Mar 2013

Family gathers to remember roadworker

6:30 am on 22 March 2013

Whanau and friends of a roadworker fatally shot on a rural road in south Waikato on Tuesday have visited and blessed the place where he was killed.

George Taiaroa, who was 67, was shot while working on Tram Road in the Kinleith Forest area north of Taupo.

His family have described him as a quiet man who epitomised love and say they are struggling to come to terms with the way he died.

The crowd gathered at the end of the bridge where Mr Taiaroa died, laying flowers and saying a karakia.

As a tribute to him, one of his workmates from HEB Construction bolted a hard hat to a rock.

Mr Taiaroa's body is now making the journey from his family home in Hamilton to Ngatokowaru Marae in Levin before his funeral on Saturday.

The police are still hunting the killer.

They say the community response has been encouraging and they are looking closely at a number of people in connection with the shooting.

Police said that just before the fatal shooting Mr Taiaroa had indicated to a blue four-wheel-drive, possibly a Jeep Cherokee, to stop and let a logging truck cross a bridge from the opposite direction.

As the truck cleared the bridge the four-wheel-drive headed away and Mr Taiaroa was then seen to fall to the ground.

He said police are very interested in finding the four-wheel-drive and said it is possible Mr Taiaroa knew the driver. Police would like members of the public to report any sightings of the blue vehicle.

Detective Inspector Loper did not believe the local community was at risk though "obviously, there is someone with a firearm that we are trying to locate." Police do not yet know the exact reason behind the fatal shooting, he said.

George Taiaora a "gentle giant

In a statement Mr Taiaroa's family say the grandfather of three had a passion for fishing, diving, rugby and travel - but his favourite pastime was being with his family.

They say the 67-year-old was a gentle giant with an even bigger heart and they are trying to focus on his life, rather than how he died.