Puke Road the focus of police drama

Police investigate campervan Puke Rd Photo: Annette Taylor
Police investigate campervan Puke Rd Photo: Annette Taylor, Number8Network.co.nz


Gordonton has been in the news for all the wrong reasons recently, with a murdered Australian’s body found in a van dumped on Puke Road and a gunman on the loose.

We were driving south on Gordonton Road at 8.30am Friday and first noticed a large, dark helicopter flying over the Village – this was the police Eagle helicopter from Auckland.

As we approached Puke Rd we saw a flash of emergency vehicle’s lights and police blocking the road.  Groups of police were standing together, some wearing flak jackets.  Just a few yards up Puke Road a white campervan was parked off the road, on the grass verge.

As we drove past I took photos and posted one on Number 8 Network’s Facebook page.  Within minutes the NZ Herald was in touch, wanting to use the photo – which of course I said yes to.

At that stage we had no idea what was going on but very soon we learned of the tragic murder of Australian tourist Sean McKinnon while sleeping in his campervan near Raglan.

By the time we returned home that evening a manhunt was underway and we, along with all local residents, were making sure our houses were securley locked.  It was very unnerving and distressing having something like this happen in our rural area.

We were all relieved to hear a man had been arrested near Tauhei.  (One person told me they heard he had hitched a lift to Tauhei – which is very scary if correct.)  A 23-year-old appeared in Hamilton District Court yesterday morning charged with murder and other offences.

Here are the photos from the morning, the one at top was used by the NZ Herald and also Australian newspapers.

In this photo you can see the abandoned campervan on the side of Puke Road.  From the time this was taken (8.32am) we believe the police had not investigated inside it yet.


Police cars and abandoned campervan on Puke Rd
The scene of the abandoned campervan, with the body of Australian tourist Sean McKinnon still inside. All photographs by Annette Taylor, number8network.co.nz


We turned back, and drove past again.  This is approaching Puke Road, 8.35am.  The van can be seen to the right, with an officer, who appears to be armed, approaching.


Photo of approach to Puke Rd.


In this enlarged version, the officer can clearly be seen.


First approach to abandoned van on Puke Rd. Photo Annette Taylor


Earlier photos taken while passing Puke Road.



Cops at Puke Road. Photo Annette Taylor

Cops at end of Puke Road. Photo Annette Taylor


It was extremely sad that night to learn more about the young man who died  – and to actually see photos of him with his Canadian fiancee Bianca Buckley, who luckily escaped in the attack.  A grim day for New Zealand.


Puke Rd, where the campervan was abandoned. Photo Annette Taylor

A Givealittle page set up to support Bianca Buckley, Sean Mckinnon’s fiancé, has raised almost $6000.

“Whilst we cannot take away her pain or loss, we are wanting her to know she is surrounded by so much love and support at this time and that we are here to help in any way we can!

The purpose of this page is to raise funds that can potentially be used by Bianca for a trip back to her home country, or anywhere that may help to bring some solace- or potentially for any form of support that may be needed in the aftermath of this tragedy.

At a time when tragedies such as this leave us questioning humanity, we are wanting to send the message that not only is this not ok, but love and good will always prevail- even in times like these.”

Click here for the page.

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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

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