Kawerau siege: Behind the cordon

Armed police at the road block on Onepu Spring Rd. Photo / Alan Gisbon
Armed police at the road block on Onepu Spring Rd. Photo / Alan Gisbon

Residents stranded on both sides of the cordon endured a troubled night, those trapped inside living just a stone's throw from a major police operation while those on the outside worried sick about loved ones they could not reach.

Rhys Warren was arrested this morning after a 22-hour stand-off with police.

The drama unfolded when police heard three shots at the rural property on Onepu Springs Rd about 10.45am yesterday.

Rhys Warren was taken into custody. Photo / Whakatne Beacon
Rhys Warren was taken into custody. Photo / Whakatne Beacon

The shots came during an operation using a plane, which is believed to have been searching for cannabis crops.

Police then cordoned off the property after another shot was fired at the plane.

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The Armed Offenders Squad arrived in Kawerau after being called out from Rotorua and police later confirmed that officers had been shot and a large police operation was underway.

Onepu Springs Road locals have written about their fears and frustrations on social media wondering how their family members, friends and animals were faring on their own during the height of the siege.

On the Bay of Plenty Police Facebook page residents have described an uneasy night, their sleep under assault by the loud, low-flying helicopters circling overhead and the constant blaring of police loud hailers as well as an underlying fear they could be targeted in their homes.

Those trapped inside the rural cordon on the outskirts of Kawerau included an expectant mum on her own.

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Paul N Rachel White said their night was disturbed by the ongoing police operation that did not let up.

"We have all had a rough night...choppers flying around ..loud speakers gun shots and the unease of this still going on ...," they wrote.

Tangaroa Maori described how he was being kept awake in the early hours of this morning by the choppers.

"Can hear the choppers flying round very hard to sleep as I feel for every1 involved."

Family and friends at the cordon during the Kawerau siege. Photo / Ben Fraser
Family and friends at the cordon during the Kawerau siege. Photo / Ben Fraser

Samm White described how two choppers were flying above her home with lights going "every which way".

" We have everything locked up and barrier in place," she posted on the Facebook page.

The cordoned resident said they were on lock down and "playing it safe".

Rosanna Te Riini said she was having trouble sleeping concerned at how her pregnant daughter was faring inside the cordon.

"I wish the Police would be able to evacuate our loved ones out and bring them to us. I can't sleep because I'm worried about my pregnant daughter stuck indoors locked up by herself at home. I feel for those in the danger zone and can't wait for this to be over," posted the worried mum.

Army arrive at the siege on Onepu Springs Road. Photo / Nick Reed
Army arrive at the siege on Onepu Springs Road. Photo / Nick Reed

Wayne Te Riini Rosanna posted the expectant mum was alone, worried to hell and restless.

"I wonder why a police escort couldn't just bring her away to you at Neenas ? I mean hey cmon its only a 5 minute task just to bring her away from that area ( i thought the shooter was contained in a house at the other end by Hahuru ?).Honestly she's bloomin pregnant and alone, worried to hell, restless and the same for you fallas sis ?"

Resident Aatamarie TeRire, caught outside yesterday's cordon, posted she was extremely concerned for the welfare of her animals waiting to be fed on her farm and wanted to know when she could return to her farm.

"... just more worried about our animals though, missed their kai time and will be going off like crazy!! The life of a farm," she post.

Charlotte Ward held the same concerns.

"Mmm i feel ya, worried for our animals too! Hopefully we can go home soon.."

The police responded that people would be able to get back to their homes as soon as possible but the priority was to keep the area contained until they were satisfied it was safe for people to return.

- NZ Herald

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