Mur­der mo­tive re­vealed

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By TONY WALL

South Waikato Dis­trict Coun­cil will hold its full coun­cil and Cor­po­rate and En­vi­ron­ment Com­mit­tee meet­ings this Thurs­day from 10am. The lease of the Toko­roa Cin­ema’s car park will be dis­cussed in the non-pub­lic part of the com­mit­tee meet­ing. Mem­bers of the com­mu­nity will be of­fi­cially wel­comed as New Zealand cit­i­zens. Those in­di­vid­u­als in­clude Menante Edith Appel, Shalon Lesa, Carl Pe­lena Mahe, ‘Epok­ifo’ou Pola’apau, Lu­cian Viorel Tuduc, Matthew Paul Dav­i­son, Julie Anne King, Fred­er­ick Lawton and Betty Marion Lawton. A per­cep­tion that Ge­orge Ta­iaroa was lazy and not do­ing his job prop­erly is thought to be the bizarre mo­tive be­hind the road worker’s mur­der.

Fair­fax can re­veal po­lice are fo­cus­ing on an ac­ci­dent about a week be­fore Ta­iaroa was shot as the pos­si­ble cat­a­lyst for the killing in south Waikato on March 19.

Ta­iaroa, 67, was shot in cold blood as he op­er­ated a stop-go sign at a sin­gle-lane bridge on Tram Rd in the Kin­leith For­est near Ati­a­muri.

Po­lice be­lieve they know the mo­tive, which they have said was ‘‘mis­guided’’, ‘‘be­yond com­pre­hen­sion’’ and would ap­pal most peo­ple.

Sources have told Fair­fax the al­leged mo­tive re­lates to the in­ci­dent a week be­fore the mur­der.

A ve­hi­cle tow­ing a trailer trav­elled through the Tram Rd road­works, but the driver failed to see Ta­iaroa be­cause he was sit­ting on the back of a flat-deck truck with his sign.

The driver kept go­ing, but had to re­verse when he en­coun­tered the road­works. As he backed up, he col­lided with an­other ve­hi­cle that was fol­low­ing, caus­ing dam­age to that ve­hi­cle.

It is un­der­stood the driver of the first ve­hi­cle be­came in­fu­ri­ated, blam­ing Ta­iaroa for the ac­ci­dent.

Ta­iaroa filled out an in­ci­dent re­port with the names of the driv­ers and num­ber plates.

He also told his col­leagues what had hap­pened at his next smoko break, but did not con­sider the in­ci­dent any­thing more than mi­nor.

It is un­der­stood po­lice were able to track the driv­ers of both ve­hi­cles from the in­ci­dent re­port.

The first ve­hi­cle was not a blue Jeep Chero­kee, of the type seen leav­ing the scene of the mur­der a week later.

Fair­fax un­der­stands po­lice do not be­lieve the driver of the first ve­hi­cle shot Ta­iaroa but have spo­ken to one of his rel­a­tives.

Ro­torua po­lice is­sued a state­ment to the Sun­day Star-Times con­firm­ing the in­ci­dent.

‘‘As part of the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the mur­der . . . po­lice have made nu­mer­ous back­ground in­quiries to es­tab­lish if there were any in­ci­dents or is­sues rel­e­vant to Ge­orge’s mur­der,’’ the state­ment said.

‘‘We are aware of a mi­nor road in­ci­dent that oc­curred ap­prox­i­mately a week prior to the mur­der.

‘‘It is one of a num­ber of pieces of in­for­ma­tion we have iden­ti­fied dur­ing the in­quiry.

‘‘We are not pre­pared to comment on whether it has any rel­e­vance to the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion.’’

A friend of Ta­iaroa’s, who asked not to be named, said any sug­ges­tion he was lazy was ridicu­lous.

‘‘ He was an older guy, and some­times he would sit down. He had to work in 30-de­gree heat – he would go through bot­tles of wa­ter.’’

An Ati­a­muri

res­i­dent

said lo­cals knew about the ear­lier in­ci­dent. If it was the rea­son for the mur­der, that was ‘‘sick’’. ‘‘It’s not a ra­tio­nal reaction. I would think the per­son would be de­ranged.’’

Ta­iaroa’s fam­ily said in March that they were at a loss to ex­plain the mur­der,be­cause Ge­orge was a kind, gen­tle man who hated con­flict. They could not be reached yes­ter­day.

Po­lice be­lieve the killer planned the mur­der, and have pre­vi­ously de­scribed a strange in­ci­dent in­volv­ing a blue Jeep shortly be­fore Ta­iaroa was gunned down.

A farmer who was driv­ing a trac­tor saw a dark Jeep parked off On­garoto Rd, and had to steer around it.

The ve­hi­cle then be­gan tail­ing him and made no at­tempt to pass, even when the road was clear.

The Jeep con­tin­ued to fol­low him when he turned on to Tram Rd. As the trac­tor passed Ta­iaroa and went over the Tram Rd bridge, the other ve­hi­cle dropped back and was then stopped by Ta­iaroa.

Wit­nesses saw Ta­iaroa fall to the ground as a blue 4WD raced away. Po­lice have seized a Jeep they be­lieve was in­volved but ap­pear no closer to an ar­rest.

It is un­der­stood the lack of a mur­der weapon is one fac­tor ham­per­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Fair­fax has learnt po­lice have re­cov­ered an­i­mals from of­fal pits on farms they have searched dur­ing their in­quiry, hop­ing to find bul­lets match­ing the one used in the mur­der.

MO­TIVE: The al­leged mo­tive be­hind the killing of stop-go worker Ge­orge Ta­iaroa is re­vealed.

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