Quick thinking by neighbours thwarted an attempt to burn down the Wainuiomata house where Janet Moses died in a bizarre religious ceremony.
Police are investigating the suspicious fire in Wellington Rd which broke out about 5.30pm yesterday.
A neighbour said he heard a window smash and saw a man running away.
“He jumped in his car and reversed really fast up the driveway,” he said.
“I ran out and looked in the house and it was all full of smoke.”
Another neighbour used a hose on the fire while the fire brigade was called.
A relative of Ms Moses, who died on October 12, said her family did not know who started the fire but thought it could be someone who “might be pissed off” about what had taken place there.
Ms Moses, a mother of two, died after being held down and forced to drink water during an attempt to lift a makutu, or curse. Up to 40 members of her mother’s family were present when she died.
Police, who are still investigating the death, are also investigating the fire.
Wainuiomata fire station officer John May said the kitchen and a bedroom were alight when they got to the house. They put it out quickly and the house suffered only minor damage.
Detective Senior Sergeant Ross Levy of Lower Hutt CIB said the investigation into Ms Moses’ death was at a critical stage.
Neighbours in the quiet cul de sac said they were “fed up” with trouble at their door.
“We didn’t ask for this – it’s too much at our age,” one woman said from her porch.