As it happened: Porirua armed stand-off - police dog Gazza shot and killed, officer injured

• Police dog Gazza shot and killed in Porirua
• Police officer injured after jumping from second storey of house
• Manhunt ongoing for Pita Rangi Tekira
• Part of the Cannons Creek suburb in lockdown

• Horouta Marae on Whitford Brown Avenue available for those who cannot get into their homes

A dramatic standoff in Porirua which led to the death of a police dog and serious injury of an officer is continuing this morning.

The stand-off began yesterday morning after a visit to the property to make an arrest.

Earlier

01:03am: A robot has just been sent in to the Kokiri Cres property, Fairfax reported just before 1am.

The move follows earlier bangs heard at the property where a man has been holed up since a police dog was shot yesterday morning.

Witnesses have early this morning described hearing "six gunshots and a man screaming and yelling" at the scene of a day-long siege.

Bystanders Rihana Rehen and Alicia Finau told Fairfax they were near the cordon when the bangs went off.

"We just heard six gunshots and a man screaming and yelling ... we heard swat [armed police] yelling as well," Ms Finau said

00:01am: Loud bangs and yelling were heard at the scene of a police siege in Porirua just before midnight. Loud bangs were heard at 11.15pm, followed by four further loud bangs about 11.40pm, yelling was heard between the bangs, Fairfax are reporting.

The information was posted online at 11.47pm, but a police spokesperson said they were unable to give anymore information "at this time".

Police were later overheard saying there had been no response from the man inside the house after the loud bangs were heard.

10:05pm: Residents who are unable to get to their homes due to a cordon at the site of a dramatic police stand-off have been given refuge from the cold at the Horouta Marae.

Around 35 families are at the marae where they will have to stay until negotiations between police and a gunman, who is holed up at a property on Kokiri Crescent, conclude.

The stand-off began this morning after a visit to the property to make an arrest yesterday morning developed into a dramatic stand-off, leading to the death of police dog Gazza and the serious injury of an officer.

Earlier this evening police said they were negotiating with a person, believed to be Pita Rangi Tekira, who was inside the house and talking to his nan on the phone, reports have said.

Tekira has been on the run since April 1 after removing his electronic monitoring bracelet. He was facing 11 charges, including dishonesty, driving offences, and violence.

At around 5pm at the scene loud thuds could be heard and a police officer was seen crouching behind a vehicle. Other officers were spotted jumping over fences. Then at around 9pm armed police have reportedly delivered dinner to Tekira.

Residents meanwhile, have been ferried to the marae on Whitford Brown Avenue where they have been greeted with food, hot drinks and a place to stay the night if negotiations continue until tomorrow.

Local community member and helper at the Horouta Marae, Pania Houkamau-Ngaheu, said there were a large number of families at the marae.

"We are part of the community so we opened up the marae and that included feeding everybody and anybody who needed it... and we have tonnes of families and individuals who are stranded basically because of the cordon.

"The people [we are hosting] are coming in stressed, pressured, concerned and anxious so we know that is what is coming with whoever walks through that door so it is really important we actually have the right people out the front there to actually meet and greet them and give them some tender love and care."

Ms Houkamau-Ngaheu said around 35 families were at the marae.

"We have been fortunate enough to actually bring in quite a lot of our whanau from other maraes who have those other skills around counselling.. who can just sit amongst [the people] and just listen to them and reassure them that everything is going to be alright."

She said there was a heavy police presence at the marae and several Maori wardens had been transporting families and individuals from the scene to the marae.

"The feeling here right now is a lot more relaxed because we have had the police in to advise them of the progress today and which streets are open. Still many of the families can't go home.. but we are ok for them to be staying here tonight and for however long they need to."

Ms Houkamau-Ngaheu said the marae had ample bedding and food which it would use to house and care for the families.

9:24pm: Armed police have reportedly this evening delivered dinner to wanted man Pita Rangi Tekira.

Fairfax reported a meal had been given to the man who has been holed up in a Kokiri Cres, Porirua, property for several hours.

They also reported a source telling them Tekira had been speaking "with his Nan" on the phone from inside the property.

6:28pm: The Horouta Marae on Whitford Brown Avenue has been made available for residents who cannot make it to their houses.

It will serve as a place to gather and get out of the cold as negotiations at the stand-off continue.

Earlier this evening, police said they were negotiating with a person of interest in the Kokiri Cres area & road remains closed for public safety.

5:49pm: At 5.45 a loud thud or bang could be heard within the cordon.

A policeman on the cordon crouched behind his patrol car and was the quickly on his iPhone.

A second bang rang out two minutes later.

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Police would like to talk to Pita Rangi Tekira. Photo / Supplied via police
Police would like to talk to Pita Rangi Tekira. Photo / Supplied via police

5:40pm: It's a waiting game at the police cordon.

Shortly after 4pm shouting could be heard from inside. Occasionally officers can be spotted jumping over fences.

All police, including one stopping traffic at the roadside, appear to be armed.

Local residents are milling around the area, some unable to get to their houses.

Chris Fa'aololo was at home on Kokiri St this morning when he saw a commotion outside.

"I saw a man running down the street, with a hand gun, going fast. He was just running fast as. We all looked straight out the window," Chris said.

"We were all scared and I told my nieces and nephews to get down off the window."
Chris isn't sure now when he'll get back home.

Wellington builder Dennis Partington was renovating a bathroom on Warspite Ave this morning.

He carried on until armed police told him to leave just after 12.

Now he's waiting for his tools, which he doesn't want to leave inside the house only 50 metres away.

"I heard a commotion. I reckon I heard shots then police on their loud hailer telling him to come out."

An Armed Offenders Squad member moving into position near where gunman Pita Rangi Te Kira is holed-up in a house on Kokiri Cres in Porirua. Photo / Mark Mitchell
An Armed Offenders Squad member moving into position near where gunman Pita Rangi Te Kira is holed-up in a house on Kokiri Cres in Porirua. Photo / Mark Mitchell

5:15pm: Tributes for fallen police dog, Gazza, have flooded in on social media.

Hundreds have expressed shock at the incident and their sympathies for the 4-year-old German Shepard's family.

Gazza was fatally shot today during an armed standoff in Porirua. His handler was constable Josh Robertson.

Shortly after the news was made public, New Zealand Police confirmed the dog was Gazza and wrote: "Our thoughts are with his handler and his family."

Dog Training Centre national coordinator, Inspector Todd Southall, said Gazza and Mr Robertson had made an effective team in Wellington tracking, searching and catching offenders.

"Gazza was a four-year-old German Shepherd, bred at the Police Dog Training Centre at Trentham. He graduated as an operational dog in late 2013 with his handler, Constable Josh Robertson, and both have served Police bravely since that time," he said.

Dog Squad NZ posted: "Awful news today, Wellington Police dog Gazza was shot and killed at a Porirua address this morning. Our thoughts are with his handler Josh and the Delta section's around the country at this very sad time. RIP Gazza, you were a top dog, and a pleasure to work with!"

Members of the public also expressed their condolences.

One Facebook user wrote: "Such a sad event, you amazing dog."

Another person wrote: "What a beautiful dog just doing his job. No one has the right to hurt or kill any animal."

Meanwhile Feilding Community Patrol send its regards to Mr Robertson and his family.

"To all Delta Units especially Josh and his family. Our prayers go to you all."

NZ Police Association vice president Craig Tickelpenny said Mr Robertson was upset following the incident.

"He has been spoken to and given some support already. Obviously [he is] upset that his work mate has been killed but he realised that it was a near miss for himself and the other police staff that were there."

Mr Tickelpenny said Mr Robertson would be offered ongoing support following the tragic incident.

"Police dog handlers are obviously very close with their dogs and they work in partnership so I think it only appropriate that a memorial service is held."

Meanwhile, the officer who had been injured after jumping out of a window was "doing ok", he said.

"He is obviously with his family and they are offering him support. Things are looking positive.

"He is seriously injured but he is definitely talking and chatting away to people."
Mr Tickelpenny said considering how the incident had unfolded, the officer seemed to be in good spirits.

4:20pm: Ross Henderson of Police National Headquarters said constable Josh Robertson, handler of police dog Gazza, had been visited by the Commissioner and Wellington District Commander following the tragic shooting.

"He and his family are being offered the usual welfare support that is available to all Police staff."

4:15pm: Wellington builder Dennis Partington, was working on a house on Warspite Ave, when he was evacuate by the Armed Offenders Squad early this afternoon.

He was told by police the hammering work he was doing could trigger the man to shoot again.

"They said the guy was on edge."

"I heard a lot of commotion and a lot of yelling and police telling him to come out.

"I reckon I heard shots. Like a popping gun noise."

Mr Partington was now waiting for Warspite Ave to re-open so he could continue working.

4:10pm: Dog Training Centre national coordinator, Inspector Todd Southall, confirmed the shot dog was Gazza.

"Gazza was a four-year-old German Shepherd, bred at the Police Dog Training Centre at Trentham. He graduated as an operational dog in late 2013 with his handler, Constable Josh Robertson, and both have served Police bravely since that time."

He said Gazza and Mr Robertson has been a highly effective team in Wellington tracking, searching and catching offenders.

"They are also popular visitors to schools, sports grounds and open days."

The Gazza and Josh would feature in the upcoming series of Dog Squad, he said.

Police dog Gazza is the 24th New Zealand Police dog to have been killed on duty, the most recent since Gage was shot and killed in Christchurch in July 2010.

He is the seventh police dog to have been fatally shot since 1972.

"Gazza is a member of the police breeding program and therefore his legacy will live on.

"The New Zealand Police Dog Training Centre will be hosting a memorial for Gazza in the near future," Mr Southall said.

4:05pm: The New Zealand Police have paid tribute to fallen comrade and police dog, Gazza.

In a post on social media they shared their sympathies with the dogs handler and family.

"We pay tribute to Police dog Gazza who was tragically shot today. Our thoughts are with his handler and his family."

3:59pm: Dog Squad NZ said on facebook: "Awful news today, Wellington Police dog Gazza was shot and killed at a Porirua address this morning. Our thoughts are with his handler Josh and the Delta section's around the country at this very sad time. RIP Gazza, you were a top dog, and a pleasure to work with!"

Gazza in late 2013 with his handler, Constable Josh Robertson. Photo / Supplied
Gazza in late 2013 with his handler, Constable Josh Robertson. Photo / Supplied

3:33pm: Armed offenders squad appear to be closing in on a house on Kokiri Crescent.

Video

3:32pm: In April last year, Gazza was praised for the part he played in tracking and capturing a the fleeing burglar.

The man led police on a 3km chase through the outskirts of Wellington after he was interrupted while trying to rob a superette.

Wellington police dog Gazza. Photo / Supplied
Wellington police dog Gazza. Photo / Supplied

Gazza traced his scene through properties and into the bush where police finally caught up with the offender, Fairfax reported.

Constable Robertson ordered the man to stop and when he didn't Gazza was set loose.

The man was arrested after a tussle with the dog.

Gazza was left with a sore neck and twisted ears after he was choked by the man during the tussle but recovered from his injuries.

Mr Robertson said it was not the first time Gazza had been injured on the job but it had been the worst case, Fairfax reported.

3:28pm: K9 Surf Rescue Dogs New Zealand said on social media: "YOU DON'T POINT GUNS AT COPS - YOU CERTAINLY DON'T SHOOT POLICE DOGS. Our thoughts are with the handler, and his family and work colleagues. RIP Gazza."

3:20pm: The police dog killed in the Porirua shooting has been reported as Gazza, a star of TVNZ show Dog Squad which follows working dogs and their handlers.

3:05pm: Superintendent Sam Hoyle, Wellington Police District Commander has spoken at a press conference.

Video

He said police were interested in a location on Kokiri Cresent and are in the process of clearing neighbouring addresses.

He said that at about 9.45am, three police staff, accompanied by a police dog, visited the Kokiri Crescent house to find a man.

The man they were looking for presented a firearm and a police dog was shot.

Two officers immediately removed the dog's body from the house and one officer jumped to safety out of a second storey window.

"It's with great sadness that I can advise one of our Police dogs was shot and killed today in the line of duty while executing a routine search warrant in Porirua," Mr Hoyle said.

He said he was unable to identify the dog until all "necessary notifications are complete and out of respect for his handler and family, just as we would for any other fallen colleague".

The officer who was injured is in a stable condition in hospital and is receiving ongoing support from his police colleagues.

Police staff, including the Armed Offenders Squad, are still searching for the offender, who left the residential property and was reported to be armed.

"We are asking members of the public to avoid the area and to report any suspicious behaviour to police immediately by calling 111," Mr Hoyle said.

They were hoping to speak with Pita Rangi Tekira in relation to the incident and were asking for Mr Tekira's family and friends to contact police.

Local day care facilities went into lock down as a precautionary measure.

The Commissioner of police Mike Bush expressed his strong support for the staff involved in today's tragic incident.

Today's events will be the subject of a "thorough criminal investigation, and also a police practice, policy and procedure investigation", Mr Hoyle said

3:04pm: Police have released this history of police dogs in a statement:

Police dogs are very much an integral part of our Police family, and any loss like this is a tragedy that is felt right across the organisation and also by many in our community.

Police dogs serve our communities day in and day out with courage and loyalty, across a range of roles and situations, often putting themselves in harm's way to protect others.

The safety of all handlers and their dogs is paramount, with teams responding to about 40,000 incidents a year.

The New Zealand Police Dog section was established in 1956 and is internationally recognised for its breeding and training programme.

130 German Shepherd patrol dog teams operate with their handlers across New Zealand, covering a range of general patrol, tracking, search and rescue, victim recovery and AOS incidents. Patrol dog teams make up about 90 percent of our dog section capability, with the rest working in detector dog roles.

The handlers themselves all have several years experience before they get selected to become a police dog handler. Dogs and their handlers then go through a robust training regime before they are graduate in an operational role in their districts.

The dogs are with the handlers 24 x 7 and live with them and their families. There's a special bond and trust between the dogs and their handlers.

The safety record of dogs is very high, however given the nature of the demanding roles they work in, occasionally deaths and serious injuries sometimes happen.

There have been seven dogs shot on duty in the section's history, including today's incident.

3:00pm: Full audio of the police press conference which was held.

2:59pm: Police say dog teams are a close-knit family, and a death in that family is a tragedy.

Officers went to a Housing New Zealand property in Kokiri Crescent in Porirua to make an arrest this morning.

A police officer suffered injuries after jumping out a second-storey window to escape the gunman... and a dog was shot.

District Commander Sam Hoyle says it's been a tragic morning.

"They were confronted by him armed with what appears to be a shot gun,

"A shot's been fired and the police dog has been killed."

2:54pm: Kokiri Ave resident Kay Dawn Landy has been waiting in her car for over an hour on nearby street, hoping she would be able to home today.

"I've been at work all morning and I thought it would be all over by now."

Ms Landy lives with her son and his children, who are currently at home, as the street is in currently in lockdown.

"He's been ringing me telling me what's been going on."

She said she wasn't in a hurry and would wait longer.

2:13pm: Police are continuing to negotiate with the man.

"Pita! Come out and talk to me. Open the curtains so I can talk to you."

The area is now deserted as residents are evacuated as an armed police officer is on scene to direct traffic.

Video

2:06pm: The police dog shot today was the twenty-fourth killed in action in New Zealand.

The last death was in 2010 when police dog Gage took a bullet for his handler, Senior Constable Bruce Lamb, during a call-out in Christchurch.

Gage was posthumously awarded the PDSA Gold Medal - the animal equivalent of the George Cross, or the New Zealand Cross for outstanding bravery and exceptional dedication.

Police dogs respond to more than 30,000 incidents each year and suffer about five injuries per year, according to police.

1.56pm: Marion Stretch, has stood outside nearby Kalingo Street for several hours as she is unable to return to her Kokiri Crescent house "We were made to get off the bus at Cannons Creek."

She was told by police to stay away from the area.

Dogs can be heard barking as police continue to negotiate with the man.

1.40pm: Police have announced they are holding a press conference at 2.30pm at the Wellington police station about the incident.

1.05pm: Kokiri Crescent resident Siliva Lotoaso said she'd been outside weeding the garden when her husband came looking for her.

He told her to come inside as her son had called to say there was a gunman in the area.

"So I came in, locked the house, and all I could hear was a helicopter."

Mrs Lotoaso said the helicopter was hovering around her street and police cars were "zooming up and down".

She'd seen news reports about the incident saying police were looking for the offender.

She'd heard the house police were focused on was just around the corner from her.

"So we're a bit worried going anywhere. We're just stuck inside the house."

When Mrs Lotoaso heard about the incident she called the neighbours to warn them to lock the doors and stay inside.

She saw children, on school holidays, running to see the helicopter.

"They were running to see the helicopter and I opened the front door and yell out 'go inside and lock the door'."

She believed all the neighbours were now inside waiting to see what would happen.

"I can't see anyone outside, it's bad."

Mrs Lotoaso said her sister was supposed to be coming to the house but her path had been blocked by police.

She said her phone had been ringing constantly with family from as far as Australia making sure she was okay.

Earlier:

Police are in intense negotiations with a man apparently at the centre of a dramatic manhunt in Porirua, triggered after a police dog was killed.

Police can be heard asking a man, "What's your name?" while a man shouted.

"You're surrounded," police said.

"We're here to help you. Leave the gun behind. Can you do that for me?

"I know you're in there by yourself.

"I can get you cigarettes, you have to co-operate with me."

The manhunt, in Porirua, began this morning after a police dog was shot and killed, and an officer injured. The officer had jumped from the second storey of a house at the centre of the incident.

Police are now evacuating residents from a nearby house.

Part of the suburb on Cannons Creek is in lockdown as police ask the public to avoid the area and those working and living there to stay inside.

Police staff visited the property in Kokiri Crescent in the suburb of Cannons Creek this morning looking for a person they wanted to arrest.

While there, that person presented a firearm, and shot and killed the police dog.

The officer - a local in the community - jumped from the house. A helicopter has been sent to provide medical assistance.

Residents have reported hearing gunshots from about 11.30am.

Wellington police have released a photo of a man they say they want to talk to in relation to the incident. He is Pita Rangi Tekira, who has been on the run since April 1 after removing his electronic monitoring bracelet.

"Any friends or whanau of Mr Tekira who have knowledge of his whereabouts are asked to contact police, so that we can make arrangements to contact him," they said in a Facebook post.

Police are also asking the public to keep an eye out for him.

A Herald reporter standing on Warspite Ave, which leads to the top of Kokiri Crescent, said the road was blocked off at both ends.

"Armed police are guarding both entrances of Warspite. There's one on each side and another office on one side directing traffic.

"There were a handful of mufti police cars Sitting on the side of the street on our way to Cannons Creek."

Police cordons and mobile patrols are in place.

A Housing New Zealand spokeswoman confirmed the property was one of theirs.
However she said there'd be no further comment at this stage as it was a police matter.

The search for Pita Rangi Tekira

Police were hunting for Tekira earlier this month after he removed his electronic monitoring bracelet and left his bail address in Hawke's Bay.

He was facing 11 charges, including for dishonesty, driving offences, and violence.

Police said on April 7 Tekira had associates in the Hutt Valley and Porirua and was likely to have returned from Hawke's Bay to the Wellington area.

He is 29 years old and about 165cm tall and of medium build.

He is described as Maori with short black hair and is wearing a dark top and shorts, and could be carrying a firearm.

They warned the public not to approach him and to contact police immediately on 111.

They also advised the public to stay away from the area around Kokiri Crescent.

Witnesses react

A witness was driving on State Highway 1 when he saw around 20 police cars speed past, heading north of Porirua.

"Just heading towards Whitby, a lot of squad cars and certainly some armed offender [squad] cars going north," he said.

Another witness said: "They are at the top of Loongana Street, Waitangirua, and the actual police are carrying guns as well.

"It's all up that area so everyone's been diverted down Whitford Brown [Ave]."

She said she can see at least seven officers and eight police cars.

An armed police officer at the cordon on Warspite Avenue in Porirua following the shooting of a police dog. Photo / Mark Mitchell
An armed police officer at the cordon on Warspite Avenue in Porirua following the shooting of a police dog. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Support for injured officer

Support has flooded in for the injured officer.

Te Awamutu police sent thoughts to their peers via Facebook, saying: "Our thoughts are with our colleagues in Poriria at this time. No police officer ever wants to hear news like this".

Police tweeted: "Thanks to the community for all the messages of support, it is really appreciated #OperationKokiri"

Porirua MP Kris Faafoi tweeted: "To those in Porirua East stay indoors &listen to Police."

Porirua mayor Nick Leggett said everybody was very concerned that the man was at large, he said.

"People on the ground are from what I understand staying safe and being sensible and we're just hoping, you know, to support the police in a very quick resolution to this.

The police had been excellent in communicating with the community, he said.

"Obviously Porirua people are watching this with a degree of nervousness and concern and we're just hoping that the injured police officer is okay and we're sending our thoughts to his family."

Mr Leggett said Porirua was a resilient place and coped with things that occurred.

"This is more of a shock than anything else...We're hoping that it resolves itself pretty
quickly and that nobody else is injured or worse."

The community was being advised to stay safe, keep a low profile and report anything suspicious, he said.

- Additional reporting: Newstalk ZB

- NZ Herald

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