Police launch homicide investigation after fatal Northland house fire ruled as arson

Police have released an image of a person they want to identify after a man was discovered dead following a deliberately-lit house fire in Northland last month.

Police have launched a homicide investigation following a house fire in Northland last month, where a man was located deceased.

Emergency services responded to reports of the fire at an address on Thomas St in Tikipunga about 3.09am on April 29.

Fenz received multiple calls to the fire, which started in a car. Fenz said that on arrival crews found the fire had spread to the house.

Police have released an image of a person they want to identify after a man was discovered dead following a deliberately-lit house fire in Northland last month.

Police said 61-year-old Hoani Reupena-Tuoro was initially located alive inside the property, but despite efforts from first responders, he died at the scene.

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The Kāinga Ora house was down a long driveway and surrounded by boarded-up Kāinga Ora houses, ready to be removed and redeveloped.

“Police inquiries have now established that this was an arson and subsequently, this is now being treated as a homicide investigation,” said Whangārei Police Detective Senior Sergeant John Clayton.

Police investigate the fatal fire in Thomas St, Tikipunga, Whangārei on April 29. Photo / Cunningham

Investigators have spoken with several people who were in the area at the time and are “making steady progress” with inquiries.

Clayton said police would still like to hear from anyone who knows who started the fire or saw anyone in the area between the hours of 1.30am through to 3.30am on April 29.

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“We are also seeking the public’s assistance in identifying this person who was captured on CCTV in the Te Kura Kaupapa school at the rear of the property that was set alight.”

Fire and police investigators work on the house in Thomas St, Tikipunga after the fatal fire in Whangārei. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Fire and police investigators work on the house in Thomas St, Tikipunga after the fatal fire in Whangārei. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Anyone with footage that could assist police in their investigation can upload it by going to https://egret.nc3.govt.nz/

Police have urged anyone who has information on the fire to contact them via the 105 phone service or online at https://www.police.govt.nz/use-105 and reference file number 240429/4766. Alternatively, information can be provided anonymously via Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.

Neighbors of the victim commented on social media how scary the fatal fire was to wake up to.

“This was our neighbor, still a bit shaken up from this morning… RIP neighbor,” said one person.

“It was very scary to watch. Our condolences to the family,” said another.

 
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