A 14-year-old boy has been charged with murder after a fatal stabbing on an Ōpua roadside.
The teenager appeared in the Whangārei Youth Court yesterday afternoon but cannot be named because of his age. He has been remanded in custody to appear in the High Court at Whangārei on February 2.
The victim was a 22-year-old man who died on the way to hospital despite the efforts of St John medics.
The stabbing occurred at the corner of Paihia Rd/State Highway 11 and Waimangaro Rd in Opua, about 200m north of the Roadrunner Tavern.
According to a witness, it happened during an altercation about 11pm on Thursday.
A man who witnessed the alleged incident, who does not want to be named, had just got home from working in a Paihia restaurant when he heard a girl screaming outside.
He went onto his balcony and saw a group of four or five people arguing.
''Then I saw them fighting so I yelled, 'Oi, what are you guys doing?'. A girl cried out for help so I went down with a torch, but it was all over by then.''
He thought it was a fist fight until he reached the scene and realised it was far worse. Police arrived about a minute later.
The man said he had seen bad things when he was growing up in his home country but never expected to see someone fatally stabbed in New Zealand.
The tavern was closed at the time — the doors shut around 10pm — and it was not known where the group had come from or where they were heading.
Northland police Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Dalzell said emergency services found a 22-year-old man on the ground with critical stab wounds.
He died on the way to hospital despite efforts of St John staff to save him.
Officers spoke to a number of people at the scene and arrested a 14-year-old boy.
Police would not release the name of the victim until all next-of-kin had been informed.
''We will be ensuring his family is supported at what is an extremely difficult time.''
Dalzell appealed to anyone who was in the area on Thursday night, and heard or saw anything which could be relevant to the investigation, to call Kerikeri police on 105.
Police would also be going door-to-door in the area in coming days to talk to business owners and residents.
The owner of the Roadrunner Tavern, who did not want to be named, said the incident did not occur at the pub but on the street just beyond a nearby building.
The two-storey building has a gym on the ground floor and apartments upstairs.
The first he knew of the stabbing was when he read about it in the Herald yesterday morning, he said.
Yesterday morning, an area at the corner of SH11 and Waimangaro Rd remained cordoned off and under police guard. A police marquee had been erected and a tarp covered an area of asphalt.
Both roads were open to traffic but a carpark entry, which provides access to the tavern and the apartments, was taped off.
Residents whose cars were parked on the other side of the cordon had to find alternative means of getting to work.
A second police officer was stationed outside the tavern.
The stabbing was not the only drama in the Bay of Islands on Thursday night.
Around the same time, a toddler with a possible broken arm, which occurred in an accident on Urupukapuka Island, was brought to shore at Paihia wharf.
A St John Ambulance on its way to help the toddler was diverted to the stabbing while the Northland Rescue Helicopter landed at Paihia School with an extra paramedic. Police then drove the paramedic to the scene on SH11.