Warwick Morehu: The local policeman who ended the Kawerau siege video

GEORGE HEARD/REBEKAH PARSONS-KING/Stuff.co.nz

Rhys Warren was arrested after a 22-hour siege. He later appeared in Whakatane District Court charged with shooting at police officers.

Actor, rugby player, kapa haka royalty, police officer and now, a national hero.

Taupo District Area Commander Warwick Morehu was the man who brought to end a siege between a lone gunman and armed officers that lasted 22 hours.

Morehu was sent to the house on Onepu Spring Rd in the Bay of Plenty, where Rhys Richard Ngahiwi Warren had shot four police officers.

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Warwick Morehu was the Maori warrior behind the Adidas global All Blacks advertising campaign.

At 9am on Thursday, Warren left the scene in a police car, putting an end to the stand-off.

READ MORE: 
* A shootout, a siege, a surrender 
Rhys Warren faces four firearm charges 
The siege negotiation complication 
The geography of a siege 
Residents heard gunshots
More armed offenders in NZ: Police Association
 

Morehu was hailed a hero, a title he rejected.

Taupo District  Area Commander Warwick Morehu was key to ending the police stand-off with 27-year-old Rhys Warren.
REBEKAH PARSONS-KING/FAIRFAX NZ

Taupo District Area Commander Warwick Morehu was key to ending the police stand-off with 27-year-old Rhys Warren.

"To me the heroes are the guys that went to the hospital yesterday," he said.

Born and bred in the Bay of Plenty, Morehu has worn the blue suit for more than 28 years.

He served as a police officer in Rotorua, where he worked as a detective for the CIB and in the Armed Offender's Squad. He was promoted to the senior sergeant in charge of the Opotiki Police Station in 2002, and then senior sergeant at the Kawerau Police Station in 2009.

Morehu was the Maori figure behind a 2009 All Blacks campaign that was viewed worldwide.

Morehu was the Maori figure behind a 2009 All Blacks campaign that was viewed worldwide.

He was recently made area commander for the Taupo District.

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Morehu was also a long-standing member of Ngati Rangiwewehi, a kapa haka group derived from the federated tribes of Te Arawa. And in 2009, he was the Maori warrior behind an All Blacks campaign.

Four-hundred giant black and white billboards of his face with a computer-enhanced moko were erected around Europe, including one a quarter the size of a rugby field, in London.

Morehu (r) alongside Commissioner Mike Bush after the conclusion of the Kawerau siege.
REBEKAH PARSONS-KING/Fairfax NZ

Morehu (r) alongside Commissioner Mike Bush after the conclusion of the Kawerau siege.

And his talents also extended to acting.

Morehu had a starring role in the 1999 Once Were Warriors sequel, What Becomes of the Broken Hearted

He and a fellow police officer, Anaru Grant, played two brothers who end up turning Jake Heke's life around by getting him a job and involved in pig hunting and rugby.

Warren faces four charges of using a firearm against a law enforcement officer.
REBEKAH PARSONS-KING/FAIRFAX NZ

Warren faces four charges of using a firearm against a law enforcement officer.

Morehu said at the time the movie was released that he "still remembers his roots back home and is just like one of the boys".

And it was those ties that were key to ending the seige.

"Certainly being in a managerial role does help, but if you look at today's example, it was actually [about] getting back to grassroots and dealing with whanau," Morehu said.

"Those are the skills that we pick up in our jobs as we progress through this career, how to engage and deal with many matters."

"You've always got to stay in touch with what's happening on the ground and it was my turn to jump into the fold and do what I could. 

"I was happy to do that and with this outcome, I was a proud Maori and a proud Maori officer."

Morehu, who is also a Maori liaison officer, approached Warren's family who had been waiting at the end of the cordon since Wednesday afternoon.

He had a strong rapport with the family and first dealt with them when he was an officer based in Kawerau, in 2009.

"Without getting into too much detail, the focus for the family was on getting a safe outcome for everybody."

"It was a job well done and, yeah, the family are doing OK."

Morehu is now stationed in Taupo and headed home for a "much-needed sleep" after Warren's arrest on Thursday.

 - Stuff

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