Watch police media conference:

Waikato Police press conference updating the public on the Morrinsville shooting.

Posted by nzherald.co.nz on Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Police say their search for a man who shot at police in Morrinsville has been elevated to a "national level".

Police are speaking at a press conference about their search for Rollie Heke.

Waikato Police Detective Superintendent Chris Page said police believe Heke has moved out of the Morrinsville area and had associates helping him avoid police.

Advertisement

"He has contacts well-across New Zealand, especially the North Island".

Police would be visiting and questioning people associated with him, he said. Page reminded people they too could face charges if they were found to be helping Heke avoid police.

Heke has a lot of criminal associates but they should be careful because Heke is known for violent behaviour, even against his associates, Page said.

He revealed they have been looking for him since September 2016.

Page reinforced warnings to the public that Heke is dangerous and should not be approached.

But he urged the public to call if they see Heke.

Morrinsville residents had been partly kept in the dark over the investigation because of the nature of the inquiry Page said.

Police were still unsure how Heke had come to have the high powered gun that he turned on officers early on Sunday morning.

Heke, who has gang connections, had hurt people close to him previously Page said.

"We're dealing with a highly unpredictable person here."

He said police were looking at crime immediately before and after Heke went missing, including car thefts and discoveries of burnt-out cars.

Page said the operation had been split into two phases.

A national operation to locate Heke was being managed out of Police National Headquarters in Wellington, while investigators in the Waikato will focus on the investigation into the shooting on Sunday morning.

"This will allow the best use of the considerable expertise we have available to be utilised, and ensure the effective co-ordination across all police districts," he said.

Page said the police officers who came under fire were dealing with the situation.

"No-one is ever ready or prepared to cope with what they did last Sunday morning.

Police believe Heke led officers on a chase in Morrinsville on Sunday morning, before they were forced to flee when he shot at them.

They ran to surrounding paddocks while their patrol vehicles were riddled with bullet holes.

Two people were taken into custody on Sunday but police said Heke escaped on foot.

On Monday night, armed police surrounded a Morrinsville house and called for Heke to come out, firing teargas into the property. But despite a search of the house and a neighbouring property, there was no sign of him.

Following the intensive search for Heke, his mother made an emotional plea on TV1 for him to give himself up.

"Please do the right thing ... turn yourself in, son," Marie Masalu said.

"I don't want to lose another son. I want to keep you for as long as I can.

"Son, I will come and visit you. I will be there for you. The family loves you, they care about you and they want you to know - Rollie, we're all here for you."

In an impassioned plea she appealed directly to Heke: "It doesn't matter what anybody else says. It's what your whanau thinks about you and we love and care for you.

"Turn yourself in, son. I don't want to have to come and identify you in a morgue. That's from your mother."

Page urged Heke to listen to his family and contact police.