Police have found a missing car and its occupants in Hawke’s Bay after it was believed an armed man had taken two children hostage.
Police earlier were calling for any sightings of a navy blue Toyota Hilux Surf SUV, which was believed to be being driven by a dangerous and possibly armed man.
Concerns were raised about the car in Cambridge today at around 2:20pm. The vehicle was last seen with a man driving, a woman passenger and two young children in the car.
Eastern Waikato Area Commander, Inspector Dana McDonald, says the car the family of four had been travelling in was stopped by Police in Napier this evening shortly before 7pm.
"Waikato staff are currently liaising with our Eastern District colleagues but at this stage the important thing is all members of the family have been accounted for safe and well,” he says.
"A considerable number of Police from across the Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Northern Communications Centre and now Eastern District have been involved in the search for the family and I would just like to acknowledge their efforts."
It is believed the woman is the driver’s ex-wife and the children are both of pre-school age. Police would not comment on the identity of the driver, and were focusing on the safety of the occupants.
The car had last been spotted around 3:10pm, heading north from Tauranga. Police cordons were in place in the area from 3:20pm.
"In Cambridge the female member of the vehicle spoke to a member of the public just saying she was scared for her safety and to ring police,” Insp McDonald says.
He asked members of the public to help with the search.
“If members of the public sight the vehicle, they are asked not to approach the vehicle, but to ring 111 immediately.”
There have been reports suggesting the man was armed but Insp McDonald says nobody has seen firearms with him.
"We're leaning towards that he probably isn't armed, just from the information we're getting over the last hour," he says. "But we're just still taking precautionary measures because we want to make sure the people in the car are actually safe."
Police believe they know who the occupants of the car are.
Insp McDonald says they weren't thought to have previous dealings with police.
Insp McDonald says he would like to acknowledge all the members of the public, who through the media, were made aware of the situation and did their up-most to assist the enquiries.
3 News / RadioLIVE / NZN