Tongariro search enters new stage
Police are reviewing their search for two men lost in the Tongariro National Park and local iwi have now placed a ra¯hui [temporary restriction on public use] on the search area.
Ha¯kopa Ngoronoa, 26, and his friend Vincent Taurima, 21, have been missing in Tongariro National Park since August 12, when the pair allegedly fled from a police chase on the Desert Road.
The NZ Police-coordinated search has involved hundreds of volunteers, specialist search teams, the police dive squad and a specially trained search and rescue dog.
All search activity to date has been unsuccessful in finding the pair.
Nga¯ ti Tu¯ wharetoa led a karakia at the search site on Tuesday and a ra¯ hui was placed on the area. Family of the lost men also attended.
Senior Sergeant Tony Jeurissen said ra¯ hui was a cultural protocol that restricts the site from any common use and or activity.
It was also an acknowledgement of the significance of what has occurred on the site and it protects the site from disturbance.
‘‘In this instance the practice of ra¯ hui will serve three functions; the first is to acknowledge and honour the significance of the event and the affected families.
‘‘Secondly the ra¯ hui will ensure the physical, cultural and spiritual safety of the community and thirdly it will ensure the physical, cultural and spiritual safety of the ra¯hui area.’’
The ra¯ hui will stay in place until Nga¯ ti Tu¯ wharetoa deem it appropriate to lift it.
Ongoing search efforts would not be hampered by the ra¯ hui, Jeurissen said.
‘‘Stage one is complete, which involved an intensive use of manpower and other resources, such as a helicopter.’’
‘‘Stage two involves reviewing what’s happened so far and finding a way to achieve our purpose, which is to bring these men home to their wha¯ nau.’’
‘‘All information gathered in the search so far will be re-assessed and this will guide the way forward for the search’’, he said.
Signs will be erected to inform the public of the ra¯hui area: between Mangamate Stream to the north, Makahikatoa Stream to the south, Desert Rd to the west and Tongariro River to the east.