New Zealand police charge 23-year-old man with murder of Australian tourist

In a photo taken Aug 16, 2019, police collect and photograph evidence in the carpark of the Te Toto Gorge lookout on Whaanga Rd, south of Raglan, New Zealand.
In a photo taken Aug 16, 2019, police collect and photograph evidence in the carpark of the Te Toto Gorge lookout on Whaanga Rd, south of Raglan, New Zealand.PHOTO: AP

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) - A 23-year-old man was charged late on Friday (Aug 16) with the murder of an Australian tourist in New Zealand's coastal town of Raglan on the North Island, the police said.

The arrest followed a manhunt for the suspect after the 33-year-old victim was found shot dead in a camper van in Raglan, in the Waikato region.

A Canadian woman who had been travelling with the victim was able to escape.

The police identified the victim on Saturday as Sean McKinnon from Australia.

"We know this was an alarming incident that shocked people right across New Zealand and overseas," Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley said in a statement posted on the police website.

Before the shootings at two mosques that killed 51 people in March, New Zealand was considered one of the safest countries, with the homicide rate a third the average recorded among member countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

In 2018, New Zealand's murder rate fell to its lowest level in 40 years and homicide rates were declining, with provisional figures showing 48 homicides in 2017, according to data published by the police. Around seven out of 10 homicides were murders.