Police tasered, pepper-sprayed and set dogs on a 53-year-old man who died in Napier in the early hours of this morning while being arrested.

The man, from out of town, visited his parents at their Hastings home last night where he attacked his father, police say.

Acting Eastern District Commander Superintendent Mike Johnson said his father is in Hawke's Bay Hospital recovering.

The man had left the property in a car and he was located by police in the car in a carpark at Westshore Beach in Napier.

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The man did not respond to several voice appeals, and police gained entry to the vehicle after smashing two windows. The man resisted attempts to get him out of the car and police deployed a number of tactical options.

Once the man was removed from the vehicle he struggled with police who were attempting to place him under arrest.

At this point the man became ill and Police staff administered first aid and tried to resuscitate him. Ambulance staff arrived and continued resuscitation attempts, but he died a short while later.

"This was a tragic incident and we extend our sincere sympathies to the family of the man involved," Mr Johnson said.

"There will be a thorough and robust investigation into what took place last night, which will include examining the actions of police staff and the circumstances surrounding the incident.

"There are an extensive number of inquires to work through and at this stage we are not in a position to provide any more details" Mr Johnson said.

The man's name will not be released until all family have been notified. The incident had been reported to the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

Neighbour Bob Bird was woken by barking police dogs at 2am. Six police cars and two ambulances were parked around a beachside carpark. He watched emergency staff working on someone.

"I watched them do CPR for half an hour. Then they put a white sheet over the body."

The incident had been reported to the Independent Police Conduct Authority.