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Two sought after more Waikato police pursuits

Published: 3:10PM Thursday April 01, 2010 Source: NZPA

Two cases of people fleeing police in cars are being investigated in Waikato after last week's fatal crash following a police pursuit.

Police are seeking two men after separate incidents in Ngaruawahia on Thursday morning.

In the first, two patrol cars pulled over a vehicle behind a service station about 9am to speak to the driver.

"As it turned out the driver was a man well known to police who is wanted on several warrants to arrest and he had no intention of coming quietly," Waikato road policing manager Leo Tooman says.

"The driver backed into one of our cars, narrowly missing our staff. As they jumped clear he managed to speed off."

Police are seeking information on the whereabouts of Craig Rata Pohutuhutu, a 34-year-old transgender male from Huntly, in relation to the incident.

Pohutuhutu has five arrest warrants in relation to assault, breaching bail and failing to appear in court.

A short time later, officers attempted to pull over another motorist as he left a property about 9.30am.

"He accelerated away and was recorded driving his blue Holden Commodore stationwagon at 140kmh in a 70kmh stretch of River Rd on Ngaruawahia's outskirts," Tooman says.

Police abandoned pursuit of the car on safety grounds.

Christopher Hemi Mahara, 32, is being sought in connection with the incident. Mahara is also wanted on seven arrest warrants and has an extensive criminal history including violent and family violence offending.

Thursday's events follow another pursuit that ended in a crash on Wednesday, as well as one last weekend, which ended with the death of the driver attempting to escape police.

A 19-year-old woman was charged with driving while disqualified after speeding off when an officer pulled her over on State Highway 27 on the Hauraki Plains about 5.40pm on Wednesday.

About 40 seconds into the resulting pursuit, the woman sped into an area of road-works, lost control and collided with a rear wheel of a truck and trailer unit travelling in the same direction.

She and her passenger were taken to hospital with moderate injuries.

Last Saturday, Israel Maki Tane Porter, 27, was pursued by police north of Hamilton as he wove in and out of traffic at speeds in excess of 100kmh.

Tooman says the pursuit lasted less than two minutes before the pursuing officer pulled out because he was worried about the driving manner of the offender.

He then saw a cloud of dust in the distance as the car collided with a van at an intersection. Porter was dead when the officer reached the scene.

"It's clear people are willing to endanger not only their own lives but those of police and other motorists as they seek to avoid police," Tooman says.

"Offenders need to think about the consequences of their decision making.

"What could begin as a routine stop over minor matters can escalate into a tragedy, much like what was experienced here in the Waikato on Saturday when a young man lost his life in avoidable circumstances."