Jan Molenaar is a calm, collected person who appears to have snapped, a long time friend said tonight.

Archie Hyde said he spoke to Mr Molenaar, the gunman at the centre of a siege in Napier, last week.

"He was perfectly relaxed," Mr Hyde told Radio NZ.

However, while he was calm normally, Mr Molenaar had a short fuse, Mr Hyde said.

"Sometimes his temper got the better of him. In this circumstance, by the sound of it he has arrived home and found people in his house and that would have meant one thing for him - he would have lost it," he said.

Mr Hyde said in his teenage years, his life was saved by Mr Molenaar in a large bar brawl.

"In that circumstance he was very calm, very controlled. One of his main jobs in his life was doing security in pubs, in that situation he knew about calming people down."

Mr Molenaar, a former army territorial, was a "gun nut," Mr Hide said.

"He told me he had an arsenal," he said.

"He was a very physical guy, proud of his fitness, he trained every day, he is formidable in terms of physicalities. I have never seen anyone in my life that, if push come to shove and it was physical, that would beat him. He knew that and he never dealt it. He was very controlled in that way."

Mr Hyde said he disagreed with media portrayals of Mr Molenaar as a potential serial killer. "To me he just seems like he has just snapped."

In the siege, Mr Molenaar would be "totally focused" on what was going on around him.

"He may have committed himself in his own mind that this is the end of the day."

Mr Hyde said he sent Mr Molenaar a text yesterday, telling him to give up. "There are too many innocent people being hurt," he said. There was no reply.

"I don't want to interfere with it because the police have got their job to do," he said.

He issued a personal plea to Mr Molenaar over the radio.

" Jan, please don't make this a sad ending, it is sad enough as it is. Face the consequences in life, not death, because it doesn't stop there."

- NZPA