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Burning car protest sparks police callout

By Hayley Gastmeier

[email protected]

Armed police were called to a rural South Wairarapa property after reports of gunshots which turned out to be a disgruntled man burning his own car.

Maramamau Rd in Kahutara was locked down yesterday afternoon as the fire service and about six police cars were sent to the scene.

Initially it was thought that shots could have been fired.

“We got a phone call that said there was a fella firing shots and he was setting fire to property,” Senior Sergeant Gordon Crawley said.

“It turned out that he was burning his own car.

“So the ‘popping’ was obviously bits and pieces making the gun shot sounds, as you would expect with fuel and stuff like that.”

The Armed Offenders Squad was also called to the scene but was later stood down.

“We have turned up and we saw the black smoke coming from the fire,” Mr Crawley said.

“We treated it seriously because at the time we didn’t know what was actually going on.”

Mr Crawley said it was understood the man at the centre of the incident “had a range of disputes with a number of people and he referred to it as his own way of protesting”.

The man had been employed by the property owner but had recently been let go, however he was still living at the address.

The owner of the farm house had rung police when he saw a fire burning and heard what he thought were gun shots, Mr Crawley said.

The man was not arrested as “he hadn’t committed any offences”.

The closest neighbour to the property said there “had been a lot of traffic going in and out” of Maramamau Rd, which was usually a very quiet street as there was only one house on it.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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