A witness has described the dramatic sight of armed police swarming a vehicle in Paihia this morning, as emergency services scrambled to save the life of a man injured in a Moerewa car wreck, said to be linked to an "incident" at a nearby ASB bank branch.
An ASB spokesperson said they were aware of an "incident" at its Paihia branch and confirmed no staff or customers were hurt, but wouldn't elaborate on what the incident was.
The spokesperson said a team of support staff was assisting, and they were working with police with their inquiries. As at 2:45pm today, the bank was open with a security guard at the door.
The witness, who wished to remain anonymous, said a grey Audi pulled up beside Paihia's central Countdown before it was immediately blocked by what she believed to be a unmarked police vehicle. A further four to five police vehicles arrived at the scene.
A woman was then allegedly removed from the vehicle by armed police with police dogs present. The witness said police searched the car for about an hour.
"We just obviously didn't know what was happening and when [police] get out of their vehicles with guns and tasers, you sort of get a bit concerned really, especially with what recently happened with the police in Puketona," she said.
Northland Police senior sergeant Mohammed Atiq directed the Northern Advocate to Detective Senior Sergeant Kevan Verry to confirm the incident, however, Verry could not be contacted as at 2pm.
In Puketona last month, a police officer was lucky to escape with their life as two men fled after shooting at a police officer at close range, a kidnapping, a car torching and possibly also a series of shop ram-raids.
Today's incident comes after a severe crash in Moerewa was linked to what police described as an 'incident at a bank' in Paihia.
At about 10:45am, Police received a report of the bank incident before a person - suspected to be linked to the Paihia incident - left in a vehicle on State Highway 1 before colliding with a tree.
At no point was a police pursuit initiated. The vehicle was spotted heading north by a police vehicle heading south towards Kawakawa, which then monitored the north-bound vehicle.
A man, the sole occupant of the car, hit the tree at speed, snapping the tree in half along with several concrete posts on a fence bordering the AFFCO freezing works in Moerewa.
He is in a critical condition with neck and spinal injuries, and has been flown to Whangārei Hospital with a potential transfer to Auckland if required.
It is believed the man was not wearing a seatbelt as the first person on the scene found the man outside the car.
Police reported that SH1 between Kawakawa to Pakaraka was closed and asked motorists to avoid the area and expect delays.
In a comment from police, it said enquiries were in their early stages, and police were working to establish the exact circumstances surrounding the incident.