Flaxmere has been hurt by a spate of recent car fires with victims including children of a kohanga reo childcare centre.

Police have been investigating a number of vehicle fires in Flaxmere over the last month with three occurring in the early hours of Saturday morning and two just over a week ago.

There have also been reports of several more before then in the past month.

In the most recent events, emergency services were called to a car fire on the corner of Flaxmere Ave and Margate Ave at about 12.30am, Diaz Dr at about 12.40am and Margate Ave at about 2.30am.


One of the badly damaged vehicles, on Diaz Dr, was a van used daily to transport children to and from Te Kohanga Reo O-Korongata childcare centre in Bridge Pa.

Van driver Faye Pairama said her neighbour heard a loud bang, which must have been a tyre blowing, and ran over to see the kohanga reo van outside her house on fire.

"It's really disheartening...I'm really angry because it comes out of the kids' money.

"The kids bought the van to pick them up and drop them off."

The vehicle was insured but they needed to get something sorted quickly before term started back on July 24, she said.

"It's just as well it is the school holidays."

There are two vans used to take the children to Bridge Pa every day and nine were transported in her vehicle before it was torched.

Ms Pairama's manager, Paurini Eriha, said the van was only a year or two old and had cost more than $46,000 with at least $1800 worth of car seats inside.

"I'm absolutely gutted, the whole van and all the car seats are ruined. I hope we can borrow something in the meantime.

"But there's nothing we can do about it, it's a serial arsonist."

Ms Eriha had been due to go on holiday this week but would be staying home to sort transport issues caused by the arson.

Margate Ave resident Amon Rimene also had his car torched in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Mr Rimene, who has a 16-month-old daughter, had been away with his family for his grandfather's funeral at the time of the incident.

"We were away and got a phone call saying your car's on fire, I don't really know what happened. I was pretty gutted."

The car, which he used to get to and from work, had been completely destroyed and he would now have to take the family car until insurance was sorted.

Mr Rimene's father-in-law Hape Gill was at home watching sport when he saw smoke coming from the car.

Mr Gill said he went outside and helped put out the flames with his neighbour using a fire extinguisher and garden hose.

He had spoken to some of the other victims and they were all really angry and hoped the people responsible were caught soon.

His son-in-law had enough to worry about without having to deal with a burnt-out car, he said.

People in the street are now scared of parking their cars on the road and have started parking them in driveways, Mr Gill said.

Alex Thompson's car on the corner of Flaxmere and Margate avenues was not as badly damaged but he said he hoped the offender or offenders were caught soon.

"I'm really annoyed about it, really angry."

Hastings District Councillor and Flaxmere community leader Henare O'Keefe said he could not understand why anyone would do this.

"I have no explanation whatsoever, god knows what these people were thinking."

He has heard from many people in the community who have been very affected by these incidents.

"Who can blame them for being upset.

"I don't know if these people realise the result of their actions, it doesn't just end with the burning of a van there's a whole lot of heartache that goes with it."

Anyone who knows something should call police or can confidentially contact Mr O'Keefe himself.

"The community have to take ownership and responsibility."

Anyone with information or who had seen anything suspicious is asked to call Hawke's Bay Police on 06 831 0700 or Crime Stoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Police investigate other fires:

Police are investigating several other vehicle fires over the past month in the same area.

These include a car fire on Flaxmere Ave on July 8 believed to have been caused by a Molotov cocktail and another on the same street a few days before.

A police spokesperson said they appear to have been deliberately lit and might be linked.

Another car found badly burnt under a bridge on Pakowhai Rd at 7.26pm on Friday was also being investigated but it is unclear whether it is related.

Car fires have been a problem in Hastings before.

Last month a Hastings teen was referred to Youth Aid following a spate of fires in Frimley last year.

Detective Constable Rhyan Honeyfeild said the 15-year-old boy was referred following police investigations into fires which plagued the Hastings suburb of Frimley between May 2016 and February this year.

The fires, which were of particular worry to residents and police, included vehicles parked at residential addresses and an unoccupied homestead nearby, he said.

"I would like to thank the community for their assistance and patience with police during this investigation," he said.