A tractor stolen from Northland College more than a week ago has been recovered thanks to alert locals who figured something wasn't right about the near-new John Deere on a Hokianga bush block.
The tractor, worth more than $80,000, was stolen on the evening of October 4 when it was last seen being driven up Broadway, Kaikohe's main street.
It was a huge blow to the school farm and its agriculture trades academy, which prepares Mid North youth for careers in farming as well as bringing in much-needed revenue for the college.
The theft was widely reported on social media as well as in the Northern Advocate and Northland Age, which paid off on Friday when the stolen tractor ran out of diesel on an isolated Waima property.
After the driver phoned someone to bring a can of fuel, word got around about the expensive new tractor and locals who had seen the Facebook posts put two and two together.
Northland College farm committee member Suzanne Brocx was ''totally rapt'' with the tractor's recovery.
''It's a great outcome. That's the power of having so many eyes looking out. Our community can pat themselves on the back for helping us get it back,'' she said.
Farm manager Bruce Andersen picked up the tractor, an hour's drive away, so it was ready when students returned to school on Monday. It was also needed for feeding out and pasture topping.
The tractor was muddy, had some minor damage and had clocked up many hours' use while it was missing. The farm's contract milker had described the theft as a ''kick in the guts'', Brocx said.
Detective Sergeant Greg Johnson, of Kaikohe police, said a 24-year-old Waima man had been arrested in relation to the theft.
He was due in the Kaikohe District Court tomorrow charged with burglary and unlawful taking of a vehicle.
More than 20 Year 10-13 students study at the Northland College ag trades academy.
Four of the Year 13s plan to continue their studies at Telford farm training institute near Balclutha next year. The college farm has 150ha in dairy as well as forestry and beehives.