Police are warning the public to stay away from the man at the centre of last night's police hunt in Napier, saying he is dangerous and should not be approached.

Police this morning confirmed they were searching for Shawn Harding, who has a history of violent offending.

There had been reports he had barricaded himself in a house, sparking the Armed Offenders Callout.

A search warrant had been executed at Bristol Street, Tamatea, Napier after police received a tip he was at the address. There is a warrant for his arrest on driving-related offences.

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The property was cordoned off by police at about 5:30pm yesterday as members of the armed offenders squad swarmed in.

Members of the public heard "a rally of explosions" about 11:45 pm.

The cordons were lifted shortly before 1am, after police entered the property, spoke to those inside and cleared the area.

However, police failed to find Harding.

Police have urged members of the public to contact their local police station or Crimestoppers (0800 555 111) if they have any information.

They've cautioned against approaching Harding and to call 111 immediately if they spot him.

"We remind anyone who may be helping Harding that assisting a person to evade Police is a crime and you may become the subject of Police attention.

"If we find evidence of this occurring you could be charged with a criminal offence."

In 2005 Harding was jailed for seven years for two attacks - one where he broke the blade of a knife while stabbing his ex-girlfriend and another where he ran a vehicle of a highway and took to it with an axe.