By Suzette Howe
A sunny afternoon in Motueka turned nasty yesterday when a police chase transformed into an armed standoff, ending with 27-year-old Ford Hurinui presenting a firearm at officers.
"It was a very dangerous situation considering how many members of the public were around, the guy was obviously carrying a rifle so it was a very tense situation," one witness told RadioLIVE.
Hurinui was known to police - he was up for almost 400 drug charges in 2012, and police say a breach of his parole conditions sparked yesterday's pursuit.
He led police on a short chase through the town, before driving down a cul-de-sac, running away on foot, then stopping to pull a gun on officers.
"When an offender pulls a gun on police, that is obviously a very dangerous situation," Tasman District Commander Superintendent Karyn Malthus.
But police say after negotiations were unsuccessful, they shot him.
"There were kids walking around with bloody schoolbags - it was a pretty out-of-control situation. The guy looked like he went to unload a rifle and then there was a big bang and he fell to the ground," the witness said.
"No police officer goes to work wanting this sort of thing to happen, however the reality is that we work in a dynamic and high-risk environment, which means that sometime we have to do these things to keep staff members and the community safe," said Supt Malthus.
Hurinui underwent surgery at Nelson Hospital and was airlifted to Wellington Hospital, where he remains in a critical condition.
It is unknown just how many shots were fired - investigations are continuing and police are now on the hunt for a second man thought to have been in the vehicle with Hurinui at the time.