Shooting victim 'epitomised love' - family
MARYANNE TWENTYMAN AND STACEY KIRK
Police hunting the killer of roadworker George Taiaroa have been heartened by the dozens of calls made to the investigation team by members of the public.
Taiaroa, a 67-year-old roadworker for HEB construction, was fatally shot on Tuesday afternoon at a traffic stop at the Tirohanga Bridge, near Atiamuri, in the South Waikato.
He had signalled for a car to stop to let a truck past, and when the car drove off again, Taiaroa was seen on the ground.
Police Detective Inspector Mark Loper said a steady flow of information was coming in, particularly concerning the blue "Jeep Cherokee-type" 4X4 vehicle police wanted to find.
"It's very clear that the community are motivated to help us, and the investigation team is equally motivated in following every crumb of information until we find who is responsible for killing Mr Taiaroa," Loper said in a statement this afternoon.
He emphasised that anyone who thought they might have useful information about the South Waikato killing should still contact the police, despite the amount of help already received.
"Please do not sit back and do nothing on the belief that we have all the help we need. You could hold the key to solving this crime and bring some much needed relief to Mr Taiaroa's family."
A post mortem had been completed and confirmed Taiaroa was fatally shot. His body had been returned to his family for a funeral.
The family of slain roadworker George Taiaroa have paid an emotional tribute, saying he "epitomised love".
"George was a gentle giant, a big man with an even bigger heart. He was a humble man who, despite his quiet manner, had a fantastic sense of humour," his family said today.
"For his wife, children and grandchildren, he epitomised love."
The family said they were struggling to come to terms with the circumstances of Taiaroa's death, but were finding strength in being together and focusing on his life, rather than the manner of his death.
Taiaroa was survived by his wife, Helen, three daughters, Rochai, Melanie and Chanel; son, Chad, and grandchildren Toby, Jada and Georgia, the family said.
PEOPLE OF INTEREST
Police hunting for Taiaroa's killer said today they had a number of people of interest they wanted to talk to.
"We have a number of people we are looking at but I can't tell you any more than that,'' Loper told Radio New Zealand this morning.
Loper would not confirm whether police thought it was a random or targeted attack, but he said it was not thought that the community was in immediate danger.
Police had already spoken to some people who saw a blue "Jeep Cherokee-type" 4X4 vehicle, but were still appealing for sightings.
Loper could not confirm if a blue Jeep Cherokee seen by the Waikato Times behind the Whakamaru service station yesterday was linked to the case.
Police inquiries would also continue at the Pukeko and Bull Tavern today.
Loper said more than 30 experienced police staff were helping with the investigation but the community held the key.
"Every small piece of information could be vital no matter how small or irrelevant that it seems."
Anyone with information about the shooting was asked to contact Taupo police on 07 378 6060.
Alternatively information could be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
- © Fairfax NZ News