Police ask for sightings of missing man's car

KELSEY FLETCHER AND KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:52 09/12/2013
Missing man's ute

SIGHTINGS WANTED: Whetu Teaola Hansen was last seen November 24, driving this 1980 grey Ford ute, travelling toward Palmerston North.

hansen standard
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Whetu Teaola Hansen has been missing since November 24.

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Police are appealing for sightings of missing Whanganui man Whetu Hansen's vehicle, which has been found parked at a Linton home.

Police became aware of 48-year-old Whetu Teaola Hansen's disappearance on December 2.

He was last seen November 24, driving his 1980 grey Ford ute, travelling toward Palmerston North.

The vehicle was recovered from an Akers Rd property on December 5, where an intensive police search remains ongoing.

The registration number on the vehicle is JM9538. 

Detective Senior Sergeant Simon Harrison said sightings of the vehicle form an important part of their inquiries in piecing together Mr Hansen's movements, and they would like to hear from anyone who saw the vehicle between November 24 and December 5.

The examination at the property, which includes a team of 15 officers supported by ESR staff, continued today and police were making ''good progress''.

''We are also continuing to speak to Mr Hansen's family and his associates.

''At this stage we have not been able to locate Mr Hansen but we have had some calls from the public regarding our investigation and we are grateful for these, as well as the support of media in our appeal.

Mr Harrison said police would still like to hear from anyone that may have any information about his disappearance or sightings of the vehicle and I encourage them to contact Police," says Detective Senior Sergeant Harrison.

MISSING MAN PREVIOUSLY INVOLVED IN MANHUNT

A man whose disappearance has sparked a major police investigation in rural Linton was previously involved in a manhunt after being connected to a 2003 shooting.

Neighbours have described the occupier of a Linton house under armed police guard as "quiet" and "one to keep to himself".

The rural Akers Rd property has been at the centre of a police investigation following the disappearance of Whanganui man Whetu Teaola Hansen, 48, who was known to visit.

Mr Hansen was the subject of a police manhunt over the Christmas period in 2003 after a man was shot at the Ashhurst Masonic Hotel. He was described by police as "armed and dangerous", but later handed himself in.

He faced a range of firearms charges in the Palmerston North District Court but the outcome of the court proceedings is unclear.

This time, police executed a search warrant at 117 Akers Rd on December 5 after becoming concerned about his whereabouts.

Detective Senior Sergeant Simon Harrison said Manawatu armed police were undertaking an investigation involving a Linton address because Mr Hansen had not been seen for several weeks.

"We are here at this property because information we've received is that this may be one of the last properties he has been at," he said. "Officers at the property are looking for any evidence that shows he has been at the property recently.

"There are two people who occupy the property, we've spoken to one of them, but we have not spoken to the second - we are unsure where the second person is."

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Neighbour Ken Foster said a man named Neil and a woman lived in the house, but they kept to themselves.

He said police asked him to keep an eye out for Neil.

"It was an egg farm so there are heaps of sheds out the back but I got the impression the sheds were used for storage," he said. "His hobby was doing up V8s and old Westie cars so he'd be down the back doing things with the radio on.

"It was a big surprise to see all this, the first thing I thought was drugs - it's isolated, lots of buildings and there are lots of people coming and going."

Another neighbour, who asked not to be named, said Neil had a cup of tea with him on Tuesday night.

"All I know is Neil is a great guy, he will have nothing to hide from," he said. "I've been through those sheds and there's nothing but old wrecks."

Mr Harrison said armed police, carrying M4 rifles, were at the scene for safety and they should not cause alarm.

"There is no indication there are drugs involved," he said, "There is no information to suggest it is a drugs house.

"Police have serious concerns for Hansen's safety and we believe that there are unexplained reasons behind his disappearance, of which we cannot elaborate further on except to say that they are a cause for concern."

Mr Harrison would not comment on any blood being investigated at the property. He said the investigation was being treated as a missing persons case - there were no suspects.

It is expected the scene examination will finish tomorrow or on Wednesday.

Mr Hansen is described as being of Maori descent, with medium build, approximately 5ft8in (1.72m) in height, with brown eyes and dark, greying hair. It is unknown at this stage exactly what he was wearing when he was last seen.

Anyone with information can contact Detective Dave Wilson on 06 213 9595 or the anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0800 5 111.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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