Heroes of the sea

Experiencing Marine Reserves programme founder and passionate marine environmentalist Samara Nicholas, from Northland, is one of eight nominees for the title of 2018 Ocean Champion. The annual search for New Zealand's Ocean Champion is aimed at celebrating individuals, groups and organisations who work hard to look after the seas and the marine life that lives in them. National co-ordinator Dr Mels Barton said the nominees represented a "wonderful mixture" of individuals and organisations, from children to scientists, community organisations, activists and volunteers. Voting closes on February 28 at www.seaweek.org.nz.

Driver held up under threat
A man driving to work in the early morning was left shaken after another vehicle hit his and the two occupants got out and forced him to hand over items. Detective Sergeant Dave Wilkinson said the man was at the roundabout on Dip Rd and Pipiwai Rd when a car hit his, forcing him to stop. Two men got out of their vehicle - described as a light-coloured and long wheel-based, possibly a four-wheel drive - and demanded the man hand over property. He complied and the two men drove off west towards Ruatangata. Mr Wilkinson said anyone who saw any suspicious behaviour should contact him at Whangarei Police station on 09 430 4500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Top-level rescue
Emergency Services were in the right place at the right time when a teenage girl got into trouble at Te Tii Bay in Waitangi. A large number of police and Naval staff were at police headquarters for Operation Waitangi when a 17-year-old girl got caught in a rip and was swept about 200 metres off shore just before 2pm on Sunday. She was spotted by members of the public who alerted police. Three of her friends tried to swim to her aid, however the current was too strong. A police officer made his way out in a kayak while a Navy Liaison Officer tasked a Navy RHIB to respond. Both the kayak and Rhib assisted the teen safely back to shore who was tired and grateful to her rescuers.

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Van-death investigation
A 30-year-old man found dead in a van parked at Pouto Point has been identified by police but they are still investigating the cause of death. A member of the public raised the alarm after spotting the door to the van, parked in the public park at Pouto, was open about 2pm on Saturday. The man was unresponsive. Police are not releasing the man's name and said a post mortem examination was to be done.