Crouched in the middle of the dark street Michael "Mick" Quirke tried to identify the man in front of him.
"Pawelka", someone called.
Mick crouched, extending his revolver out in front of him.
Again the call of "Pawelka" came.
He did not respond to the calls as he tried to work out if the figure in front of him was the quarry he was helping police search for.
It was a fatal mistake.
Quirke was himself mistaken for the criminal Joseph Pawelka and was shot and killed by fellow searcher William Overton.
It was the night of April 11, 1910. Pawelka, sometimes spelt Powelka, had been on the run for several days after escaping from police cells in Wellington.
As he made his way north he committed a spate of burglaries and arsons and in Palmerston North shot Sergeant John McGuire. McGuire died on April 14 from his wounds.
Quirke, who had two brothers in the police and whose father was a former policeman, volunteered for the manhunt.
The Auckland Star newspaper of April 14, 2010, reported several police had been searching for Pawelka.
At the coroner's hearing for Quirke, Overton said Quirke looked like he was ready to shoot.
'I try to picture myself in that very confusing environment," Terry Quirke says. "[Mick] obviously believed the person he was facing might have been Pawelka. He didn't realise the shouts were directed at him.'
Mick was Terry's great uncle. Yesterday he was among several family to gather at Mick Quirke's grave in Pahiatua which has recently been restored.
The original gravestone was erected 'as a token of esteem and affection by his many friends'. The headstone included the emerald pearl granite cross, featuring a spray of shamrocks with a harp of Ireland in the centre. Two lines from Michael Quirke's favourite song, Killarney, were inscribed on the headstone.
Pawelka was captured on April 17.
He had been hiding out in a cowshed at Ashhurst, with two loaded revolvers at the ready.
In June that year, he was sentenced to 21 years in prison.
On August 27, 1911, he managed to remove the bars from his cell window, after previously replacing the screws with wood shavings and soap.
The story goes that the escaper was helped by family and friends to travel to Auckland, from where he sailed on the Makura to Canada on February 16, 1912.
- © Fairfax NZ News