Police are praising the courage of a Kaitaia resident who relieved two men of firearms and potentially saved two lives in the course of a violent altercation.

Forty-two-year-old Leonard Skinner said he didn't have time to think of his own safety, his initial thought being that Kaitaia did not want another shooting, before he relieved one man of a slug gun and another of a loaded shotgun.

The incident began, on Monday last week, when two brothers allegedly confronted a third man in Okahu Rd at 1.40pm. A tyre brace was allegedly brandished and a threat to kill allegedly made, according to police.

The victim, who saw that the two men were armed, went home, but 30 minutes later the offenders allegedly arrived at that address.


The victim allegedly used a car to ram the offenders' utility multiple times, the passenger getting out of the ute, allegedly armed with an air gun and a baseball bat, the driver allegedly emerging armed with a large hunting knife.

Mr Skinner, who was mowing his lawns just a few doors down the street, moved his vehicle to put a stop to the ramming then wrested the air gun and bat from the passenger, the victim seizing the bat and allegedly started attacking the ute with it. He also allegedly pulled the driver's door back on its hinges until it almost reached the wheel.

The man then allegedly took a loaded shotgun from the brothers' ute, pointed it at the two men as they ran and allegedly pulled the trigger. It did not fire because the safety catch was engaged.

We don't want our children seeing this sort of stuff happening, but a few people are making this place worse than it has to be, unfortunately.


Mr Skinner said he had absolutely no doubt that the two men would have been shot in the back at close range but for the safety catch.

"He was really pulling the trigger," he said.

He then wrested the shotgun from the man, again without thinking of the potential outcome.

"They were all pretty out of it," he said yesterday.

"There was a whole lot of stuff going on. I wasn't thinking about what might happen. My wife was more shaken up than I was. I just reacted instinctively. I didn't want another shooting in Kaitaia."

The incident took place just a few metres from where Kaitaia man Lee Rata was fatally beaten on New Year's Eve 2015, dying the following day.

Sergeant Kevin Anderson said that while it was not police policy to encourage civilians to put themselves in danger, Leonard Skinner's actions on this occasion had been courageous and commendable.

"He might well have played a major part in preventing a tragedy," he said, adding that he believed Mr Skinner was deserving of formal recognition.

Mr Skinner said he did not know the three men "from a bar of soap," adding, he was tired of the violence that he and his family were seeing in the street.

"We see so many fights under the streetlight across the road. It's insane," he said.

'We don't want our children seeing this sort of stuff happening, but a few people are making this place worse than it has to be, unfortunately."

He had returned to Kaitaia after 14 years in Kerikeri and Whangarei, and was not ruling out the possibility of leaving again. He had returned after suffering a back injury at work - he was still waiting for one last operation - but even that hadn't deterred him.

He did not aggravate his injury, however.

Meanwhile a 19-year-old man and two aged 20 face charges including unlawful possession of firearms, assault with a weapon, possession of an offensive weapon and threatening to kill. All are currently on bail.