Search for Dolphy Kohu to continue overnight

6:28 pm on 19 August 2015

A woman arrested at a house in Ohakune today was one of five associates who were wanted in connection with a search for a gunman, police say.

An armed police officer at an address in Ohakune during the search for Dolphy Kohu and his associates.

An armed police officer at an address in Ohakune during the search for Dolphy Kohu and his associates. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

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The police updated media this afternoon on the hunt for Dolphy Kohu and four other people who are still on the run after an armed incident in Whanganui last night.

At one point, shots were fired at police officers and a police car taken.

Schools in the region around Ohakune, Waiouru and Raetihi were closed today while armed police and a helicopter team searched for the group responsible.

Police said people in the central North Island should go about their business but should remain vigilant. They have asked people in the region not to pick up hitchhikers.

Dolphy Kohu

Dolphy Kohu Photo: Supplied

Speaking at a news conference in Palmerston North, Superintendent Sue Schwalger said today's arrest was the result of police working their way through CCTV footage.

Ms Schwalger said no charges have been laid at this stage, and investigators were speaking to the woman at the Ohakune Police Station.

Separately, a teenage girl and a teenage boy have been taken away by police from a house in Ohakune.

They are believed to be relatives of Kohu but are not thought to be among the group travelling with him.

Ms Schwalger urged Kohu and his remaining associates to hand themselves in immediately so the situation could be resolved safely.

She said police knew that after the group dumped the police car near Tangiwai last night they went to a nearby house to phone an associate.

Central District Police Commander Superintendent Sue Schwalger

Central District Police Commander Superintendent Sue Schwalger Photo: RNZ / Simon Williams

Ms Schwalger said the police have been focusing on three properties in Ohakune but were still appealing to the public for more information.

She said police would keep searching throughout the night, and extra staff have been sent to Ohakune.

'Officers knocked on my door after shots fired'

Raetihi resident Annabel Dekker told Jesse Mulligan this afternoon of the surprise she felt when the officers who had been fired upon knocked on her door asking to use the phone.

"At about twenty to four this morning I heard a banging on the front door and I had no idea what time it was and I couldn't imagine who it would be. But I found two police officers on the doorstep who had just fled the scene."

Dr Dekker said she was glad they were not injured.

Fugitive's family hope for peaceful end

Kohu has a history of violent offending and was released from jail in June for a 2012 shotgun attack on a Whanganui family. A warrant was issued for his arrest last month.

Speaking to Checkpoint this afternoon, his great-uncle, Peri Kohu, said he feared for his great-nephew's safety and hoped the police would take a cautious approach when he was confronted.

"You've made certain choices when you start firing at policemen because they start firing back and then you're in the uncompromising situation where only one comes out of that all right. So we're very sad."

He said he had not seen his great-nephew in "some time", but had a simple message for the fugitive: "Just remember, whatever you do, remember that we love you."

Kohu's grandfather, Te Tawhero Dolphy Kohu, who shares the same name as his grandson, spoke to Radio New Zealand this morning.

"The only thing I can really add to it is for my mokopuna, for my grandson, to give himself up, come forward and give himself up.

"The situation now, as much as I hate to think it, they're going to shoot him, they're going to shoot him, his very actions have put him in that situation where they [police] have no choice."

Asked what he would say if he could speak directly to his grandson, Mr Kohu said: "Boy, I love you, just give yourself up, that's all."

A crashed police car remains on the side of Ngamokai Road as the hunt for Dolphy Kohu continues.

A crashed police car remains on the side of Ngamokai Road as the hunt for Dolphy Kohu continues. Photo: Radio NZ / Alexander Robertson

Map of central North Island

Police warned people in the Ohakune, Waiouru and Raetihi region to stay indoors. Photo: Google Maps

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