Police in Christchurch will be armed while an offender who is believed to have a gun is on the loose.
Superintendent John Price says the decision to arm officers was not one taken lightly and are urging the man to come forward.
"It is not something that I would choose to do but I choose to do it for one reason that I want my staff to be safe and feel safe at all times," he told Newshub.
A manhunt is underway tonight for Treik Allen, a 20-year-old who police say may be carrying a gun.
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Superintendent Price says a particular group of the police force will be armed until he is found.
"Until such time when he is located or hands himself in to the police, front line level one responders in the Canterbury district will be carrying firearms, for their safety and public safety.
Police usually carry weapons in their cars, but until further notice will carry bushmaster assault rifles and glock pistols.
Police say the decision comes on the back of three separate shooting incidents in the last week.
Superintendent Price says officers were shot at on Saturday morning after spotting a car driving dangerously.
On Tuesday they pursued a car briefly before it hit road spikes, and a 33-year-old got out of his car, firing again at police officers.
Police shot the man, who remains in a critical condition in Christchurch Hospital.
Four days after the incident there remains a heavy police presence on Evelyn Couzins Rd where the shooting occurred, with police combing through every inch of the area for evidence.
Residents of the usually quiet street support police being protected. Mary Killabrough says it's the right move to protect officers and citizens.
"With the escalation of the bad people being able to get guns anywhere at any time I think it's a sensible solution. Pistols, I don't want to see the Australian guns."
The New Zealand Police Association president Chris Cahill says it shouldn't come as a surprising move.
"Unfortunately that's where we're heading if we don't do something about the number of firearms that are in the hands of criminals."
For now it's a temporary move in Canterbury until police find the man they're looking for.