Two small earthquakes shook the seafloor about 70km east of Whangārei early Wednesday morning, according to GNS Science's GeoNet seismic monitoring site. The quakes, of magnitude 2.8 at 1.42am and magnitude 2.5 three minutes later, were not strong enough to be felt but piqued scientists' interest because they occurred on a fault line that runs just south of the Poor Knights Islands. An earlier earthquake occurred in the same area on December 27, while to the southwest an ongoing cluster off Bream Bay has produced 115 small quakes since December 26. The two latest quakes occurred at depths of 9km and 5km, respectively. Northland is generally regarded as the least seismically active region of New Zealand.
Crash death victim named
Police have released the name of a young woman killed in a two-vehicle crash in Waipū on Monday. Celina Paige Wealleans, aged 18, of Whangārei, died when the car she was driving and a truck collided at the intersection of Nova Scotia Dr and Uretiti Rd around 8.40am. Tributes posted online described the ex-Whangārei Girls High School student as a hard-worker with "the most amazing heart". A police spokesperson said their sympathies were with Wealleans' family at this difficult time.
Attack on elderly woman
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Arrests are yet to be made regarding the "cowardly and unprovoked" attack on an elderly woman who was pulled from her car in Whangārei. Police were called to King St in Kensington shortly after 10.30am on Monday after four young males pulled the woman from her stationary car. Detective Sergeant David Hamilton, supervisor of the Whangārei Tactical Crime Unit, said the offenders then searched her vehicle and made off with some of her possessions. Police are continuing to investigate the incident and have appealed for anyone with information to come forward. People can contact police by calling 105 and quoting reference number P049410093 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Kaikohe arson act of 'stupidity'
A suspicious fire that had the potential to destroy a home on a residential street in Kaikohe has firefighters reminding firebugs about the "stupidity" of arson. The Kaikohe Volunteer Fire Brigade responded to a suspicious fire lit in a small wooden garden shed on Shaw St around 1am on Wednesday. Kaikohe fire chief Bill Hutchinson said their quick response meant they were lucky to save a house located 2m away from the fiery shed. The home, unoccupied at the time, instead received minor damage as a result of the alleged arson. "To anybody lighting deliberate fires, it's really serious. Just don't do it, it's as simple as that...You just can't guarantee there's no one in the house. It's just stupidity."" Hutchinson said.
Kaimaumau wetland blaze update
Northland's biggest firefighting operation in decades is being scaled down with the 2828ha Kaimaumau wetland blaze now largely under control. As of Wednesday, day 41 of the fire, about 40 firefighters were at work on the ground — down from 80 at the peak of the fire — backed by an incident management team of 16 people. At its height the management team numbered 36 people based in Waiharara Hall, about 30km north of Kaitaia. Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) incident controller Wayne Martin said the rain of the past few days had helped the firefighting effort, especially in areas of lighter vegetation along East Beach and behind Kaimaumau village. The work was now focussed on the western and northwestern edges of the fire ground where underground peat was still very hot. On Tuesday FENZ re-opened East Beach but urged people to stay out of the dunes and the fire ground beyond because the blaze had created hazards in the Kaimaumau wetland.