Lake activist escapes from custody

Taueki on the run

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 15:52 31/03/2014
Phillip Taueki
WARWICK SMITH/Fairfax NZ
Phillip Taueki.

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Levin police are searching for Lake Horowhenua activist Philip Taueki after he escaped from custody on Friday.

Police arrested Taueki in the early hours of  Friday morning after they found him at the Horowhenua Rowing Club buildings, which he believes is being unlawfully occupied. 

Police Acting Manawatu area commander Detective Inspector Chris Bensemann said Taueki was arrested for burglary.

‘‘Prior to Mr Taueki being transported to the Levin police station he was taken by officers to his house to secure his property and from here he has absconded from police.’’

Bensemann said police made inquiries at the weekend to determine Mr Taueki’s whereabouts, but had been unable to find him.

Taueki has had a number of run-ins with police over issues at the lake, including an appeal against an assault charge that he took unsuccessfully to the Supreme Court.

After one arrest last year he returned home to find his property, including his car, had been vandalised while he was in custody.

Taueki has lived in a former nursery at the lake and has campaigned for more than a decade for its clean-up.

He says the rowing club has no legal right to use its building at the lake and that it should instead be used by the lake's owners, of which his is one of about 1600.

Earlier this month he tried to store items in the building that were being used for his lake recovery efforts. These were in turn removed by rowing club members, under the supervision of police.

Bensemann said anyone with information about Taukei's whereabouts should contact the Levin police.

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