1492756767782 - Porirua siege a year on: did arsonist mean to torch house where Pita Te Kira died?

Porirua siege a year on: did arsonist mean to torch house where Pita Te Kira died?

After 26A Kokiri Cres burned down, Chrissy Leggott warned the same would happen across the road.

The street was waiting for it and wouldn’t rest until the house was gone, she said.

It didn’t burn. Number 13 Kokiri Cres, the state house where gunman Pita Te Kira died after a 26-hour standoff with police a year ago has long been repaired.

New tenants live there now. The windows, broken by police gas canisters, are fixed.

* Fire at Porirua siege house a mystery, except for ‘fresh’ food clue
* Fire at Porirua property where police dog Gazza was killed
* Injured siege cop’s leaping from window to escape gunman
* Gunman’s uncle said he had not known nephew was in trouble

But across the road, all that is left of 26A, the house where Te Kira shot and killed police dog Gazza a year ago on April 21, is a vacant lot.

The house was torn down after it was torched a few weeks following Te Kira’s death – the day after Gazza’s.

Housing New Zealand (HNZ) said there was no immediate plan for the empty lot. The agency was re-developing in other parts of Porirua first and planned to consult with the locals on what should be done with the section.

Area manager Kathy Furfie said HNZ recently held a community barbecue on the empty section.

Still, the arsonist’s identity remains a mystery.

Burn patterns show the fire possibly started in the lounge on the ground floor.

The state home’s sole occupant was out that night. A neighbour saw the flames bursting through the lounge window.

Six minutes later the first fire engine was on the scene but the house was already consumed by the blaze, which burned so fiercely, a chest of drawers crashed through from the second storey to the ground floor.

The structure was so unstable, investigators peeked into the remains from the safety of a fire engine’s snorkel.

Witnesses were apprehensive, a fire investigator’s report into the case said: “Due to the very sensitive nature of recent events in Kokiri Cres, witnesses were reluctant to give their names, but were willing to offer information on what they had seen and heard.”

One compelling clue has yielded no answers for investigators.

Someone left behind some food in a polystyrene container – the kind commonly used by Chinese takeaway shops, with a metal spoon still in it.

It looked fresh when police picked through the scene after the fire.

Porirua police Detective Sergeant Dave Jones said there was an extensive investigation, but: “All avenues of enquiry were exhausted with no offender identified.”

Police had items from the arson scene forensically tested: “however no evidence, including DNA was obtained.”

If anyone knew anything about the fire, they could still approach the police or pass information anonymously to Crimestoppers, Jones said.

Porirua eastern ward councillor John Burke said Porirua was in pressing need of social housing, and HNZ was right to focus on investing in other projects for the district.

He suspected the agency sometimes chose not to rebuild at sites where there had been a notorious tragedy – which had been the case in Porirua before.

In June 2009, Joseph Ogle had beaten both his ex-partner, Joelene Edwards, 21, and her 16-year-old flatmate, Jashana Robinson, to death at their flat in Morere St, Titahi Bay.

Within months, two suspicious fires were lit at the flat. A month later it was torn down.

Christchurch’s “House of Horrors” was also torched after the bodies of Rebecca Somerville and her missing neighbour, Tisha Lowry, were found buried under the floorboards of the flat in 2009.

After vandalism and arson attacks on the property, the flats were ripped down and turned into a green reserve, named Ripena Ma (white ribbon) Reserve.

The Every St, Dunedin house which was the scene of the Bain family murders was torched with the permission of police after members of Robin Bain’s family requested it.

As for 26A Kokiri Cres, neighbour Patricia Pukeke thinks it was a case of mistaken identity.

“I reckon they got the houses mixed up and they wanted to burn the one down where he died.

“It doesn’t make much sense to burn a house because a dog died in it.”