Man feared drowned is alive

Divers at work in the Wairoa River earlier this week. Searchers were relieved the man was alive and police have urged him to give himself up. Picture supplied
Ray Taunoa

UPDATED Saturday July 15:

A GISBORNE man feared drowned in the Wairoa River and subject of an intensive six-day search is alive and well, and now wanted by police.

Ray Taunoa, 54, drove off after police tried to stop him in Wairoa in the early hours of last Sunday morning.

Police said it was a random stop at around 3am that morning, but the vehicle fled and police lost sight of it.

His car was found abandoned later that morning on the banks of the Wairoa River and footprints led from it to the river.

Police began a search for him that day with fears he had drowned in the river.

The search continued all week up to the time police were advised yesterday that Mr Taunoa had contacted a member of his family.

“We now believe Mr Taunoa is alive,” search co-ordinator Sergeant Greg Lexmond told The Gisborne Herald yesterday afternoon.

“A family member contacted us to say he had been in contact with them to let the family know he was alive.

“His whereabouts are still unknown at this stage and we would urge anyone who knows where he is to contact police or his family.”

Sergeant Lexmond said police wanted Mr Taunoa on alleged criminal matters.

“We believe he did enter the river after he left his car on the bank, but somehow he got out of the river again.

“Exactly how all that happened we look forward to discussing with him, when we catch up with him,” Sergeant Lexmond said.

“Now we would ask him to give himself up. He has wasted enough of our time already.”

Police, search and rescue personnel and other volunteers searched the river all week, and the police national dive squad searched the river as well on Tuesday.

A surf lifesaving inflatable rescue boat and crew and police from Gisborne continued the search yesterday morning.

“We have not put a cost on the search operation because we do not when we are trying to save someone’s life, or recover a body.

“But it is fair to say the costs involved have been substantial, and a cost to the taxpayer,” Sergeant Lexmond said.

“The situation has also been unbearably tough on Mr Taunoa’s family.

“His family are understandibly very relieved he is still alive, and so are the members of the search team.

“But it is now in his best interests to hand himself in.”

UPDATED Saturday July 15:

A GISBORNE man feared drowned in the Wairoa River and subject of an intensive six-day search is alive and well, and now wanted by police.

Ray Taunoa, 54, drove off after police tried to stop him in Wairoa in the early hours of last Sunday morning.

Police said it was a random stop at around 3am that morning, but the vehicle fled and police lost sight of it.

His car was found abandoned later that morning on the banks of the Wairoa River and footprints led from it to the river.

Police began a search for him that day with fears he had drowned in the river.

The search continued all week up to the time police were advised yesterday that Mr Taunoa had contacted a member of his family.

“We now believe Mr Taunoa is alive,” search co-ordinator Sergeant Greg Lexmond told The Gisborne Herald yesterday afternoon.

“A family member contacted us to say he had been in contact with them to let the family know he was alive.

“His whereabouts are still unknown at this stage and we would urge anyone who knows where he is to contact police or his family.”

Sergeant Lexmond said police wanted Mr Taunoa on alleged criminal matters.

“We believe he did enter the river after he left his car on the bank, but somehow he got out of the river again.

“Exactly how all that happened we look forward to discussing with him, when we catch up with him,” Sergeant Lexmond said.

“Now we would ask him to give himself up. He has wasted enough of our time already.”

Police, search and rescue personnel and other volunteers searched the river all week, and the police national dive squad searched the river as well on Tuesday.

A surf lifesaving inflatable rescue boat and crew and police from Gisborne continued the search yesterday morning.

“We have not put a cost on the search operation because we do not when we are trying to save someone’s life, or recover a body.

“But it is fair to say the costs involved have been substantial, and a cost to the taxpayer,” Sergeant Lexmond said.

“The situation has also been unbearably tough on Mr Taunoa’s family.

“His family are understandibly very relieved he is still alive, and so are the members of the search team.

“But it is now in his best interests to hand himself in.”

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Kristen - 2 months ago
The Gisborne Herald bares much resemblance to the Gisborne sewage system. You talk so much bullshit it's beginning to leave stains on your chin. Your journalists are nothing more then a pathetic joke and wouldn't know what real news was even if it jumped up and bit you in the balls. You should be ashamed of yourselves. As this man's daughter, I can GUARANTEE this is LIES. YOU ALL will be held accountable for the repercussions of your actions. Your a disgusting pack of infidels whose opinions mean less then your existence's, now crawl back to the sewers you are so gracefully trying to escape from.

JJH - 2 months ago
HE HAS DONE ENOUGH TIME INSIDE FOR NO REASON. LEAVE HIM ALONE.

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