A high profile Mongrel Mob member on the run from police has links to Hawke's Bay - and has been involved in at least two violent crimes here.
Mana Tangitutu, 27, who has the words "East Coast mongrel forever" and three large M's tattooed on his face, sparked an extensive man hunt when he escaped police custody in Whakatane last week.
Police spokeswoman Kim Perks said local police were notified of his strong links to the eastern North Island.
"He has links to the East Coast including the Hawke's Bay so it's fair to say the Hawke's Bay and Bay of Plenty areas are quite a focus," Mrs Perks said.
The Hawke's Bay Today archives revealed Tangitutu's trail of offending as an 18-year-old in Hastings.
In 2003, he was sentenced in the Hawke's Bay courts for his part in an unprovoked attack on a tourist, and the same year told a court how he passed a knife to a man on trial for a fatal stabbing.
At the time of the unprovoked assault, Judge Dale Clarkson called Tangitutu's actions "a disgraceful piece of violence". He was one of three men who punched and kicked a Malaysian tourist in a daylight attack. Months later he told the Napier High Court how he gave a knife to the man on trial for fatally stabbing 18-year-old Gavin Arthur outside a Hastings party.
On Wednesday, Tangitutu had just been sentenced to four months in prison for violence against a woman when he slipped out of a holding cell. Police had executed a number of search warrants and were now casting their net wider. A warning had been issued that anyone harbouring Tangitutu would face prosecution. He is described as Maori, about 1.8m tall with distinctive full facial tattoos. Tangitutu is known to carry weapons and should not be approached.
Information can be given anonymously on Crimestoppers 0800 555111 or to Hawke's Bay Police (06) 873 0500.