Shots fired at multiple Kaikohe homes have rattled residents of the Far North town where a gang feud continues to boil over.
Linda Bracken, chairwoman of the Kaikohe Business Association, lives next door to one home targeted by gunfire on Tuesday morning.
"My neighbours said 'my kids aren't safe, we're moving out'," Bracken said.
She believed the shots fired at the houses from the road were an attempt by the Killer Beez to provoke a reaction from rival gang the Tribesmen.
The police presence in Kaikohe yesterday was the heaviest the Advocate has seen outside a one-off special operation.
Patrol cars could be seen circuiting the town's back streets while other officers stopped cars on State Highway 12, a few kilometres east of town with a police dog and handler at the ready.
While Kaikohe residents weren't hiding in their homes – Broadway, the town's main thoroughfare, was full of people and cars – the talk on the street was all about the surge in gun violence.
Everyone the Advocate spoke to was convinced that the problems were caused by outsiders coming into town, acting on the gang quarrels playing out in South Auckland.
Many were pleased to see so many police on the streets; others said local gangs were keeping their heads down and whānau were sticking together in the hope of keeping Auckland gang influences out of their town.
One resident, who did not want to be named, said she was awoken by shots between 4.30am and 5am on Tuesday.
She heard five shots. Others heard more but it was hard to tell because the sound echoed around the pre-dawn suburb.
The shots shattered upstairs windows at a neighbour's home in rooms where children usually slept but no one was hurt.
She didn't hear her neighbour's dogs barking, which suggested the shots were fired from the street rather than by someone coming onto the property.
Police quickly sealed off nearby Wihongi St.
The resident said people were coming into town and targeting the homes of known gang members.
"It's the flow-on effect of what's happening in Auckland. It looks like they're trying to provoke a reaction, another street fight."
She was referring to an incident in March in which a large number of men beat up a member of a rival gang in broad daylight on the town's main street.
The victim suffered serious head and other injuries.
She was not fearful for herself – "I'm at peace," she said – and was glad to see the heightened police presence, as well as efforts by locals such as reformed gang leader Jay Hepi to tackle the problem.
Far North district councillor John Vujcich said the Government needed to support the town to arrange activities and programmes for young people to stop them from joining gangs.
"Overall, the people of Kaikohe are extremely friendly. As a town, it's got a bad reputation that's undeserved," he said.
Early this morning, a group of Mid North hapū plan to take a stand by declaring a rāhui against gun violence.
The collective, called Te Tiahotanga, encompasses the hapū of Ngāti Ueoneone, Ngāti Whakaeke, Ngāti Tautahi, Te Matarahurahu and Te Uri o Hua.
Far North area commander Inspector Justin Rogers said police will be in attendance at today's hikoi to declare the rāhui.
Police in the Far North have made a number of arrests on firearms charges in recent days.
A pistol was found and a man arrested in Kaikohe on Wednesday after police stopped his vehicle, one of 60 vehicle stops in the Kaikohe area.
The man, David Frederick Warren, 45, appeared in the Kaikohe District Court yesterday charged with unlawful possession of six rounds of .22 ammunition and unlawful possession of a .22 firearm. His occupation was given as caregiver.
He was remanded in custody until May 31, when he is due to appear by audio-visual link for a bail application. Further charges may follow.
It followed the earlier arrest of three people and seizure of a gun in the Far North. One firearm, ammunition and a motorbike were located and seized.
Rogers said the arrests were linked to gang activity, but police had not established whether they were responsible for the Tuesday morning shootings.
"The arrests so far have been linked to gang members and we're still making detailed investigations into the people responsible for the actual shootings."
Police had extra staff at Kaikohe police station investigating the shootings and providing community reassurance.
Rogers said they believed the gunshots were linked to ongoing tensions between the Killer Beez and the Tribesmen gangs.
Police understand the Kaikohe community's concerns about firearms and gang tensions, Rogers said.
"We're committed to quashing the gang activity and organised crime and also committed to ensuring the safety of our community and reducing the impacts of gang violence."
There have been two other firearms incidents in the Far North this week, which Rogers says police believe were not related to gang activity in Kaikohe.
On Monday morning, an 18-year-old male was arrested after police responded to reports of a person with a firearm on Rahiri Settlement Rd in Horeke, and two firearms were seized.
Police also responded to other reports of a person with a firearm on Tamatea Rd, Awanui, at about 5.15pm.
Last Thursday, six people were arrested on firearms and drugs charges after a drive-by shooting in Kamo, and a gun was seized.
Shots were fired from a car in the Station Rd area at a person who was taking cover behind another vehicle on Tuesday afternoon.
No injuries were reported after any of these incidents.
Sociologist and gang expert Dr Jarrod Gilbert said he was not sure that gun violence among gangs was getting worse, despite the recent issues.
"I don't think there's any doubt that there's a spate of gang violence at the moment and we are seeing more high-powered weapons.
"If you go back to the early 2000s, then it's definitely worse. If you go back to the early 80s, not so much."
Seven shootings in Auckland overnight on Tuesday were believed to involve the Tribesmen and the Killer Beez.
It is understood the shootings in Auckland - and those in Kaikohe - were sparked by an incident in which a senior member of the Killer Beez turned up armed at a rugby league practice to threaten a rival.
People should call 105, report online at 105.police.govt.nz or anonymously via Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111 or www.crimestoppers-nz.org if they have any information about organised crime or illegal firearms, police said.