Hippie van may be key to teen's strange death

23:37, Dec 12 2012
tdn hippy stand
Police are still investigating the death of a teenager found on New Plymouth's main street.

A hippie van could hold the key to solving the mystery of a teenager found dead on New Plymouth's main street.

Dakota Kahui, 16, also known as Dakota Totorewa, was found by a member of the public about 8pm on Tuesday in a driveway on Devon St West.

A post-mortem examination was to be carried out yesterday.

Detective Senior Sergeant Grant Coward said the cause of the boy's death was still unknown.

"We are not saying at this stage whether it is suspicious, what we are saying is that it's unexplained," Mr Coward said.

"There is no sign of any physical injuries or trauma that he has experienced so that's why we are calling it unexplained."


Dakota was described as a male Maori, believed to be more than 1.88 metres tall, reasonably slim, dark hair with some facial stubble.

He was wearing a pair of blue pants, with a dark blue and black checked collared shirt, a purple and black LA Lakers baseball cap and a white pair of adidas shoes.

Police have examined the scene and were still conducting inquiries around the area where the body was found.

Mr Coward said Dakota, who was from the Waikato area, had been living with family in Hawera for the last three weeks.

"About midday on Monday he told his family he was going to hitchhike to New Plymouth. We are not sure of the reason," he said.

Dakota got a ride but then told the driver he had no money and asked to be taken home so he could get some.

Mr Coward said Dakota's family had described the vehicle as a "white van with multi-coloured spirals and a hippie-type design" on it.

"We are keen to identify this chap, he's apparently French and he has potentially taken him through to New Plymouth."

Mr Coward said there had been sightings of Dakota around New Plymouth's CBD area on Tuesday, but police wanted to hear from anyone who had any further information.

"We want to know how he got there and who he was with and any activity regarding him leading up to his death," he said.

"We need sightings of this boy at any stage yesterday [Tuesday] but in particular on Devon St West where he met his death."

Mr Coward said police could confirm Dakota was heading west along Devon St West before he died and wanted to know if there had been anybody seen walking with him.

Police received a good response after the story appeared on the Taranaki Daily News website yesterday. Anyone with information is urged to call 06 759 9456.

Taranaki Daily News