21 Jul 2011

Relative calls Taranaki police shooting murder

6:09 pm on 21 July 2011

A relative of the man shot dead by police in Taranaki last weekend called the killing murder as he was taken for burial.

Anthony Ratahi took his former girlfriend hostage with a handgun at the Headlands Hotel in Opunake on Friday.

Twelve hours later specialist armed police shot Mr Ratahi through the left eye after setting a dog on him.

Police found a knife beside his body but it was 45 hours before they announced they'd found a gun. They still haven't said if if he had it when confronted by armed police.

About 200 people gathered at Oeo Marae near Opunake on Thursday for the funeral of the father of three children, and grandfather to two.

As Mr Ratahi was lifted into a hearse, a woman cried out that he'd been murdered.

The 46-year-old was described as a lively, fun-loving man who lived a hard life, but elders at the tangi urged others to choose a less troubled path.

In June he was sentenced to three months' jail for trying to strangle the former girlfriend for 10 seconds and putting the tip of a knife to her throat, when she came to his house despite having a protection order against him.

The summary of facts noted that Mr Ratahi did nothing further and indicated he'd rather kill himself than her. He was convicted for assaulting another woman in March.