Explosions rang out last night as armed police surrounded a Morrinsville house and called for a "dangerous" man suspected to have shot at officers to come out.
The suspect was named as Rollie James Heke, wanted in connection with a shooting in the small township on Sunday.
But despite a search of two properties by armed offenders squad officers in the Waikato township, there was no sign of Heke.
Police today confirmed he had not been found and said the search for the 36-year-old would resume today and appealed for the public's help.
Residents were allowed to return home after a five-hour drama that started when a cordon was put up on Cureton St, near where Heke was believed to have fired a military-style semi-automatic weapon at three officers at the weekend.
The officers were forced to flee just after midnight on Saturday into surrounding paddocks and their patrol vehicles were riddled with bullet holes.
Two people were taken into custody on Sunday but police said Heke had escaped on foot.
After police set up cordons last night, more than a dozen explosions from tear-gas canisters sounded from a property where police executed a search warrant.
Street lights in the immediate vicinity were turned off. Local residents watched events unfold from 6.30 last night.
One person heard police say "come out now, you won't be harmed".
Police said Heke was believed to be armed and dangerous and should not be approached.
Newstalk ZB reporter Sam Carran was at the cordon and could see police cars, vans and a number of officers with assault rifles.
"They've got spikes laid out so that any cars on Studholme St won't be able to get out.
"Further down the road a number of men are fully kitted out in AOS uniforms, moving across the road towards a house.
"Members of the public have said they've heard a loudhailer go off, trying to get whoever is in the house to come out. We don't know, at this stage, if it is Heke or not," Carran said.
There was a large police presence and street lights had been turned off to give officers running across the street more cover.
About 9pm two fire engines arrived with crews equipped with breathing apparatus.
The evening spectacle drew a crowd. A number of residents were wrapped in blankets for warmth in the chilly night air and others walked as close to the scene as they could in their dressing gowns.
Police advised them that tear gas was being used in the operation.
Both fire engines left the scene by 10.30pm and a property owner was allowed inside the cordon. The street lights were turned on again just before 11pm.
Police remained at the property at the centre of the investigation this morning.
Morrinsville man Johnny Harrison heard dogs barking when he got diverted from the cordon by police.
"There are armed police standing with vests on, stopping people from getting into the cordon.
"I heard dogs barking and someone talking through a megaphone, it sounded like they're trying to coerce someone out of a residence."
A young man whose partner owned a property inside the cordon said a neighbour called him about the armed standoff. He said he called the police to help them access the house.
The earlier shooting happened just after midnight on Sunday after a police pursuit in Morrinsville. It sparked a major manhunt involving about 30 staff, including AOS members.
Police said Heke was actively avoiding them and was known to have links to Hamilton, Auckland and Tauranga. He had several existing warrants to arrest for methamphetamine-related offences and breaching bail conditions.
Heke featured on the television show Police 10-7 in March this year after he cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet and went on the run.
Police warned people not to approach him because he was considered dangerous. He also featured on the TV show in 2016 after he breached bail conditions.
He was described as 183cm and of medium build.
Police asked anyone who saw Heke or knew where he was to call 111 immediately: "Police would like to remind anyone who is assisting Heke to avoid apprehension that they are committing a criminal offence and could face charges themselves."
● Anyone with information on Heke's whereabouts is asked to contact Waikato Police on (07) 858 6200 or report anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.