The police dog and alleged gunman critically injured in a police shootout in a small Northland town on Tuesday morning are both now in a stable condition, Northland's top cop has announced.
Northland District Commander Superintendent Tony Hill also revealed the man shot by officers was known to police, as they had a warrant for his arrest on firearms and cannabis charges.
New details on the gunfight in Tangowahine were released by Supt Hill during a press conference from Whangarei Police Station on Tuesday afternoon.
He said police were called to the town, north-east of Dargaville, at about 9:17am after a member of the public called to report a "suspicious person" on Tangowahine Valley Rd. At about the same time, an off-duty cop recognised him as a man who had a number of active warrants for his arrest.
Having received this information, two police units armed themselves as a precaution and approached the man. However upon seeing them, he jumped a fence and fled into a nearby paddock, flanked by a police dog and his handler.
It was at this time that the man turned and fired shots at the police dog, wounding it at least once.
"The officer returned fire and subsequently the offender was shot three times," Supt Hill said. "Police staff immediately provided first-aid to the man and called for assistance."
Both the police dog and alleged gunman were airlifted to Auckland in critical condition, where they have been receiving medical treatment - the canine at Unitec Mt Albert and the man at Auckland City Hospital.
They are now both in a stable condition, but staff are said to be "distraught" that a member of police staff came so close to losing their life on Tuesday.
"Our police dogs are a highly valued part of our police whānau and regularly put their lives on the line to protect our community," Supt Hill said.
"We are hoping the police dog makes a full recovery, but it is still early stages. Police are also working with and providing support to the family of the man who was shot."
The dog, who has been part of the service for a number of years, will undergo a computerised tomography (CT) scan to determine the extent of its injuries.
Supt Hill said the dog's handler and the other police staff involved were left shaken by the "frightening incident", and have all been offered support in the aftermath of Tuesday morning's events.
"Our police officers come to work every day and risk their own safety to keep our community safe, and this is an outcome that nobody wants," he said.
"However, this incident highlights the unpredictable and dangerous nature of policing. Our staff must make quick decisions to ensure not only the safety of the wider community, but also their own safety.
"They deserve to go home at the end of the day to their families."
Cordons in Tangowahine remain in place as officers make enquiries and conduct a scene examination.
Multiple police investigations into the incident are underway, and the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) has been notified and is now investigating.
Supt Hill says the incident marks the fourth time in three months that Northland police officers have had firearms used against them in the last three months alone.