An investigation into a laser strike on a plane flying out of Kerikeri airport that had the potential to put lives at risk, remains on the police radar.
Constable Rhys Dempster, of Kerikeri police, has put a call out to the public to report any suspicious behaviour they may have spotted around the airport when a plane flew out at 6.10am on Thursday.
Police said the aircraft had just departed from the airport and was flying at around 1500 feet — 457m — at the time the green laser strike occurred.
An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said flight NZ8275 from Kerikeri to Auckland encountered a laser strike on take off but the aircraft departed without incident and the matter was reported to air traffic control.
She would not comment on how many passengers were on the flight or whether they would have been aware of the laser strike.
"Safety is paramount for Air New Zealand. Laser strikes are potentially dangerous and we support the authorities in taking action when they occur," she said.
So far no one had been arrested but a senior international pilot has warned the use of the laser puts the lives of everyone on board at risk.
New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association president Tim Robinson said lasers were not toys, and pilots and air traffic controllers were concerned that it would only be a matter of time before a serious accident would result from such dangerous use.
"I've talked with pilots who have experienced similar laser strikes when trying to land a plane, often with many passengers and crew on board. They describe the confusion, temporary blindness and the resulting headaches as one of the most terrifying thing they've ever gone through," said Mr Robinson.
The Civil Aviation Authority said laser strikes predominantly occurred during phases of flight where the demands on pilots' vision, attention, and co-ordination were greatest which was approach and landing, take-off and climb-out.
At these low-altitude, high-workload flight phases, the consequences of any temporary pilot-impairment or distraction are potentially catastrophic and could cause an extremely high level of public harm in the case of an accident.
The pilot could suffer from "flash blindness", or temporary blindness following exposure to high-intensity light.
They were not aware of laser strikes affecting an aircraft's instruments. Large and medium passenger aircraft are most commonly targeted.
The Possession of High-Power Laser Pointers Amendment Act 2014 makes it illegal for anyone to have a high-power laser pointer in a public place. Offenders face a maximum three months in prison or a $2000 fine. Under the Crimes Act, people who are found guilty of "endangering transport" can face up to 14 years' imprisonment.
Anyone who witnessed the Kerikeri incident or has any information that can assist our enquiries is urged to contact Kerikeri Police on 09 407 9211.