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Police hunt marae gunman

Published: 11:39AM Tuesday October 02, 2001

A gunman who opened fire among sleeping children at an Auckland marae is being hunted across the city.

Youth Worker Paul Davis was shot as he fought off the intruder in the meeting house at Orakei marae, and police fear the gunman's next move.

The group of 20 children were at the marae to learn about history and Maori culture.

Davis was one of three adults looking after them as they slept in the marae's meeting house.

He was disturbed about 4.30am Tuesday by a gunman wandering among the sleeping children.

Detective Inspector Gavin Jones says Davis was shot in the stomach at close range with a rifle.

After the attack police took the unusual step of closing the marae as they completed their investigation.

The children were only allowed to return home after spending six hours in CYFS custody, police say for their own protection.

"It is very concerning that there is someone who is prepared to walk into a crowded meeting house of a marae at 4.20 in the morning and is prepared to shoot, especially when there are children around," says police spokeswoman Noreen Heggarty.

Police are also investigating reports that petrol cans were found on the slopes around the marae.

As Paul Davis recovers from surgery, the Orakei community is coming to terms with an apparently unprovoked attacker still at large.

"The community is really worried, this sort of thing has never happened around here before but it won't stop us," says spokesman Mu Maihi-Hawke.

The Orakei community is acting on those words, planning to send the children back to the holiday programme as soon as the marae reopens.

About 30 police are working on the case.