Police fork out more than $400,000 to gun owners at first buyback

Police have collected more than 220 firearms at the first of 258 events to collect now prohibited weapons and modifications. 

The first buyback event took place in Christchurch on Saturday at Riccarton Racecourse. 

As of 4:40pm, 169 firearms owners had been processed, handing over 224 prohibited firearms and 217 parts and accessories.

The total that will be given to firearms owners as compensation is $433,682. Owners will receive payment for their firearms and parts within 10 working days.

Half a dozen firearms were also handed in under the amnesty.

"Police recognise that this is a big change for the law-abiding firearms community and we are hearing really positive feedback from people as they come through today that they are finding the process works well for them," Acting Canterbury District Commander Mike Johnson said earlier in the day.

At the end of the day, Johnson said Canterbury firearms owners' attitude towards the process had been "outstanding".

"They have really engaged in the process here today and we have had positive feedback about the experience.

"We look forward to seeing more members of the firearms community tomorrow at Riccarton Racecourse between 10am-3pm and at our other local collection events in the Canterbury District."

Police Minister Stuart Nash praised efforts by both police and gunowners at the busy buy back event.

"Many of those who handed over firearms commented how easy the process is, how the prices are fair, and how police made the whole event go smoothly. Police say the feedback has been very positive," Nash said.

He said preliminary figures indicated people were coming through the door faster than one every two minutes.

"A prohibited firearm or part was handed in at a rate of more than one a minute. Payments were processed at a rate of more than $1400 a minute."

Early reviews of the gun buyback process were positive from owners, who said it was quick and easy.

More than 900 people registered around 1400 firearms online in advance of Saturday's event, which has so far gone smoothly.

One man, who wished to remain anonymous, said he was impressed and "definitely" happy with the amount he got.

"I was selling an SKS and I got $712 for it. It was in the near-new percentile - it was fine. Showed up, they got us through pretty quick," he told Newshub.

"They line you up, have a number, call out the number, do one person at a time. They've got a gunsmith on-site and he goes through it. I reckon they're being fairly fair."

The gun buyback is in response to new laws passed in April, which prohibit the sale and possession of military-style semi-automatic weapons.

Such weapons were during a shooting in Christchurch on March 15, where 51 members of the Muslim community were killed during Friday prayers.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern committed to changing New Zealand's gun laws the next day.