The fatal shooting happened on rural Tram Rd, in the
Kinleith Forest area. Photo / 3News
Police investigating the fatal shooting of a road worker
near Tokoroa yesterday say no one heard gun shots.
Detective Inspector Tim Anderson told a press conference in
Taupo today that a logging truck driver saw Hamilton man
George Charles Taiaroa, 67, fall to the ground but did not
hear any shots fired.
The Hamilton man was operating a stop-go sign about 3.20pm
yesterday on Tram Rd in the Kinleith Forest area which
bridges the Waikato River.
He had stopped a vehicle to allow a logging truck from
Rotorua firm Rotorua Forest Haulage to cross a bridge.
As the driver passed Mr Taiaroa after crossing the bridge, he
saw the road worker fall to the ground with gunshot wounds.
The other stop-go operator was about 200 metres from where Mr
Mr Anderson said the shooting appeared to be an isolated
"We have had a good response already from the public and we
have a number of reports we are following today."
He said police were following up on a number of vehicles
which could have been involved, including a blue four wheel
drive-type vehicle similar to a Jeep Cherokee.
When asked about any motive for the killing, Mr Anderson
said: "It is only day two and it is too early to speculate
Mr Anderson said there were more than 30 experienced police
staff from Rotorua, Tauranga and Taupo working on the
A local woman who knew Mr Taiaroa briefly said he enjoyed a
beer and a steak occasionally.
"He was pretty cheeky, a chirpy, lovely man who always had a
smile and a word to say," she said.
"We were supposed to meet up for a beer on Saturday and then
this happened, it's awful, just so tragic."
Earlier, Detective Inspector Mark Loper said police
appreciated that the community would be concerned by
yesterday's tragedy and will want to know what they can do.
"The community has a significant role to play in this
investigation going forward. Every piece of information,
particularly in these early hours and days could be vital; no
matter how small or irrelevant that information may seem."
Police were particularly keen for people who were in the
Atiamuri area and its surrounds to think back to 2.30pm to
4pm yesterday and report to police any vehicle seen speeding
or driving erratically.
Officers would be supporting the man's family, who hopefully
could help catch the killer.
"Background information from the family will be vital to the
investigation going forward," he said.
Mr Taiaroa worked for national company HEB Construction, and
earlier had been working with a crew on a new State Highway 1
bridge at nearby Atiamuri.
That bridge opened this week.
HEB chief executive Derrick Adams told Radio New Zealand
yesterday that staff were "absolutely devastated".
The company's director Bruce Pulman told the Herald that
staff were trying to find out more details.
"We're not fully up-to-date, police had the place in
lockdown. I believe he was one of the stop-go boys."
Police said there was no need for locals to panic.
A spokeswoman said: "We can reassure the public that police
are working hard to resolve this incident at the earliest
The Rotorua-based BayTrust Rescue Helicopter was called to
assist as ambulances rushed to Mr Taiaroa, who died at the
scene, near the Tirohanga Bridge. A section of Tram Rd was
closed while police examined the scene.
The killing happened in a rural area where there are few
One farmer said the first he'd heard of it was the rescue
helicopter, while others were shocked to come across the
From the top of a hill overlooking Tram Rd and the Waikato
River a logging truck, from Rotorua Forestry Haulage, could
be seen parked near the middle of the cordoned-off road.
Anyone with information should contact Taupo Police on (07)
378 6060, or anonymously contact Crimestoppers on 0800
In a statement, the Taiaroa family said: "This has been an
unexpected and shocking event for everyone concerned. The
family would like to acknowledge the overwhelming support
they have received and ask that the media respect their need
for space and time to deal with the loss of a loving husband,
father and grandfather.''.