The cry from the Northland community is clear: stop shooting at our police.
Whangārei residents voiced their frustration at officers facing firearm-related violence on the frontline after yesterday's incident where a sole police officer was allegedly shot at by a male driver in Tikipunga.
The early morning shooting sparked a series of police Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) follow ups across Whangārei, including a large road block on Station Rd in Kamo, a search in Mander Park near Central Avenue and entering the yards of properties on Third Ave.
Last night a 24-year-old man was arrested in relation to the incident and will appear in Whangārei District Court this morning facing a number of charges, which will include firearms offences.
Northland District Commander superintendent Tony Hill said
police hope this arrest brings some reassurance to the Whangārei community.
The superintendent said police are not looking for anyone else in relation to the matter.
Earlier, a team of six forensic specialists were searching the Puna Rere Rd roadside opposite the Whangārei Golf Course.
At 2.13am a vehicle with two occupants pulled into a police checkpoint on Te Hononga St in Otangarei but drove off before officers could speak to the driver.
The driver of the vehicle allegedly fired a shot into the air while in a police pursuit.
The driver later stopped and allegedly fired multiple shots at the following police vehicle while in the driver's seat.
None of the shots hit the patrol vehicle and fortunately the officer was not injured, Hill said.
Emergency services, including the AOS and dog squad, were called out and a short time later police found the vehicle involved up a driveway in Otuhiwai Cres.
Residents in the area were advised to stay inside their homes while officers closed the surrounding streets to traffic as they hunted for the gunman.
Hill said they are committed to catching anyone who presents firearms to members of the community or police.
"Police acknowledge that this incident will be extremely concerning to our community and we want to assure them that we are working hard to identify and locate those involved."
The addition of two new Precision Targeting Teams and the Whangārei based Organised Crime Unit - recently expanded to the Mid North - were a big asset to serious crime investigations, Hill said.
A Tikipunga resident, who did not want to be named, described sitting on her deck when she heard what sounded like two gunshots ring out from the Kiripaka Rd area.
"I wasn't sure if it was or wasn't but it was a bit scary ... my dog started nutting out and I look up and there's what looks like a cop walking down the back of my property."
The woman said her partner, who left for work around 5.20am, messaged her and said there were AOS officers "everywhere".
Another resident, who wanted to remain anonymous, reported seeing an AOS officer on the corner of Erin St and Korau Rd as well as a police dog handler in the same area.
The woman said she had moved to Whangārei in February from Christchurch and thought Tikipunga was a safe suburb.
"I don't understand why these little s**** are shooting at the police," she said. "It's scary, as this is a really quiet area. You think it's Tiki, it's supposed to be safer."
A Kiripaka Rd resident woke late in the night, looked out his window and spotted around 10 AOS officers.
He was disappointed police had again experienced a shooting incident.
"These idiots firing at police is just idiotic - it's about time they grew up and stopped shooting at the people trying to help us."
New Zealand Police Association president Chris Cahill said despite some members of the community not returning banned weapons during last year's firearms buy-back and amnesty, the initiative was still successful in removing the most dangerous weapons from the community.
Nationally 60,000 weapons were returned and in Northland there were 3349 firearms collected, 1892 hand-ins completed, and 8932 parts collected.
But Cahill said the buy-back initiative was never alone going to end firearms violence.
His sentiment was mirrored by Hill, who claimed there was no evidence the culture of unlawful gun usage has changed via the firearms buy-back.
He said what was gaining momentum was the effort by New Zealand Police and the districts to keep the country's officers safe.
"The police are putting a lot of effort into the frontline safety programme which focuses on ways we can protect our staff."
The programme was prompted by the fatal shooting of police constable Matthew Hunt who became the 33rd officer to be killed in the line of duty on June 19 this year.
Hill was grateful for the public support shown towards frontline staff after yesterday's shooting and made a point that isolated incidents like this are not a reflection of the community.
Yesterday's incident is the second in three weeks after two men opened fire on a female police officer's car just south of Kerikeri.
On that occasion, the police vehicle's windscreen was shattered by a shotgun blast after a car pulled out in front and stopped the patrol vehicle on State Highway 11 in the early hours of October 27.
Despite a manhunt across the Northland region police are still looking for the occupants of the car.