Ton­gariro search en­ters new stage

Taupo Times - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - ROBERT STEVEN

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.

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