The hunt is still on for the person responsible for a 200m trail of blood which led from a burning Hastings home, and through several properties in a "quiet cul de sac".
Police are investigating Tuesday's suspicious fire on Holmes Place, Flaxmere, which started about 3pm and left a home extensively damaged. The home's occupants, Mauluulu Taulafo, his wife, and their 1-year-old daughter, had been out shopping when it occurred.
Detective Sergeant Daryl Moore yesterday confirmed reports someone had entered the house shortly before the fire and left before emergency services arrived.
"There is a trail of blood leading from the house down to Boston Cres which is more than 200m away."
This trail leads from the burned house through properties belonging to Zoe Gifkins and Tracey Hibbs.
Blood splatters are dotted up Ms Gifkins' driveway, then circle the car port before leading back down the drive and into the neighbouring property of Ms Hibbs. She believes the man jumped a fence and ran across a reserve to Boston Cres.
Ms Gifkins, whose yard also borders the reserve, said she thought she had disturbed the man while he was in her yard. There is a smudged bloody handprint on the side of her house, near the back door she exited when she heard about the fire.
The residents said the culprit being in their yards made them feel unsafe. They were glad none of the neighbourhood children had been playing in the quiet street when the incident unfolded.
"The kids could have been outside, being that time of day," Ms Hibbs said. "We're a close cul de sac here. It's a bit too close to home."
The pair had followed the blood trail across the reserve on Tuesday night, and thought the person had a getaway car waiting for him as the blood trail suddenly stopped.
Mr Moore said police would like to speak to a "person of interest" who was likely to have a fresh injury to one of his hands or arms that will be bandaged or covered with plasters.
He was believed to be aged between 25 and 30 years old. He was described as Polynesian and approximately 175 to 180cm tall, about 85 to 95kg and of athletic build.
He was described as having a "scraggly afro of dark hair", about 5cm long, with stubble on his face. He was wearing a navy blue T-shirt and spoke English with a strong accent.
On Tuesday the man who lived in the home behind the family said he had heard the sound of breaking glass before the fire started.
Ms Gifkins described their neighbours as "the loveliest people", who she thought had been in the house for about six months. She thought it was the baby's room which had been worst affected.
- Anyone who has seen this man, or has any information, is asked to call Hawke's Bay Police CIB on (06) 873 0531 or call Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.