Air ambulance busier than ever
Thirty-three years after the first Northland Rescue Helicopter flight out of Kaitaia, Tai Tokerau's air ambulance service is in demand more than ever. Overall, there have been 920 callouts and 883 flight hours to the end of August this year.
In the three months up to August 30, the region's three rescue choppers flew 332 missions compared to 248 for the same period last year. NEST chairman Paul Ahlers said if the trend continues the service will surpass yet another record for annual flights after last year saw more than 1115 flights undertaken, compared to 953 in 2019.
Ahlers said with so much demand on the life-saving operation, an even greater emphasis has gone on pleas for public donations to help fund the service - with NEST's two-month annual fundraising appeal already under way.
Fresh Covid test after weak positive
Health officials are arranging a repeat swab of an essential worker in Northland who returned a weak positive Covid-19 test result this week.
The Auckland Regional Public Health Service said the delay in test results was because there had been challenges in getting hold of the worker, who is from Auckland but had travelled to Northland and undergone surveillance testing.
The Northland District Health Board was yesterday afternoon
awaiting confirmation of further testing.
Arson accused remanded
A man accused of lighting five fires while on the run from locals, police and firefighters in a small Far North community has appeared in court on a raft of arson, dishonesty and domestic violence charges.
The fires started at Owhata, next to Herekino Harbour, about 11pm on Tuesday with the man caught at 10am on Wednesday when a combination of terrain and fire left him no escape route.
The last and biggest blaze, on farmland off Whangape Rd, was put out by helicopter around 1.30pm. Sam Harrison, 43, appeared in the Kaitaia District Court charged with four counts of arson and one of attempted arson.
He was also charged with threatening to kill or commit grievous bodily harm, burglary with a weapon, theft, assault on a person in a family relationship, and two counts of breaching a protection order.
He was remanded in custody and is due back in Kaitaia court by audio-visual link on October 13, when he is expected to apply for bail.
$20,000 Lotto win
A MyLotto player from Northland was among 18 punters throughout New Zealand who won $20,722 in Lotto Second Division this week.
There were three lucky players who also won Powerball Second Division, taking their total winnings to $29,365, but none were from Northland.
The live Lotto draws cannot take place while Auckland remains in alert level 3. During this time, computer-generated draws are held for Lotto, Powerball and Strike.
Bail refused, more charges laid
A Kaikohe man who led police on a 90-minute foot chase across farmland after crashing a stolen car was again refused bail when he appeared in court earlier this week.
Takawaenga Poa, 35, was initially charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of a pipe for smoking methamphetamine, possession of an offensive weapon (a machete), assaulting police using a car as a weapon, and two counts each of failing to stop for police and driving while disqualified.
During his October 5 appearance in Kaikohe District Court fresh charges were added of failing to stop, burglary, assault with a blunt instrument, and breach of release conditions.
He is due to make another bail application on October 26. Poa was tracked down by a police dog handler on farmland near Ngapipito Rd on September 16.
School pool gear stolen, destroyed
Students at a Whangārei school will miss out on a term of swimming lessons after "selfish" thieves stole and destroyed important pool equipment on Tuesday night.
A post on Manaia View School's Facebook page said thieves broke through the school gates in Raumanga and stole a trailer equipped with a pool heater and filtration unit. The equipment was destroyed when the thieves crashed their ute, allegedly stolen, and jack-knifed the trailer.
Without the gear - loaned by Sport Northland and Pools in Schools – students will miss out on swimming lessons that "would have helped keep them safe over the summer", the post said.