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Australian shot dead in New Zealand

CANBERRA: A 33-year-old Australian man has been shot dead in New Zealand.

Sean McKinnon, from south-western Victoria, and his Canadian girlfriend were sleeping at the Te Toto Gorge carpark in Raglan, on the west coast of the North Island, early on Friday morning.

Police said a man demanded the key to the couple’s campervan, before shooting the Australian. His partner, described as being “very shocked and distressed”, managed to escape the gunman and alerted the police.

“At approximately 3:20am, police were notified that an offender had approached a van and shots were fired,” Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley said.

“At approximately 8:00am this morning, police located the van with the man’s body inside.”

Police said they found the van with the body inside some 80 kilometres away.

Armed officers have launched a manhunt across the Waikato district to find the gunman, who remains at large.

“Inquiries indicate that this was a random attack,” Detective Inspector Pitkethley said.

“It is understandable and concerning to have an armed offender outstanding but I want to reassure the public we are working hard to identify and locate the offender. It is our absolute priority.”

Te Toto Gorge Raglan, situated about three hours south of Auckland on New Zealand’s west coast, is a popular coastal destination for walkers and hikers.

Detective Inspector Pitkethley said “the terrain where the vehicle was stolen is quite rough with a lot of bush around”.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was “providing consular assistance” to the family of the deceased.