Arthur Hyde sent two text messages to his friend Jan Molenaar but received a reply to neither.

The first was a request for Molenaar to hand himself over to the police. The other was a more personal appeal to a mate he had known for more than 40 years.

"I haven't had a reply to either," Mr Hyde said early yesterday. "It's looking darker and darker."

Mr Hyde said Molenaar had a long interest in weapons and explosives, which was likely piqued during his time in the armed services.

Asked if Molenaar's house could be wired with explosives, Mr Hyde said: "They [the police] should not contemplate even going inside. I have no doubts he is capable."

New Zealand Defence Force spokesman Shaun Fogarty confirmed that Molenaar, 51, spent six years in the territorials in the armoured corps of the Hawkes Bay Wellington Regiment in the 1980s.

He never served overseas, left the territorials in 1988 and has not had any involvement with the Army since.

Colonel Raymond Seymour, who was the director of infantry and SAS and oversaw New Zealand's territorials in the 1980s, said territorial soldiers played an important role but it was unlikely that any would be ready for full combat operations.

Colonel Seymour said it was also unlikely Molenaar would have received instruction in using and making explosives, unless he had been a field engineer.

As a territorial, Molenaar would have undergone physical training and learned first aid, field work and basic combat tactics.He would have been trained to use weapons including rifles, machine guns, pistols, grenades and light anti-tank weapons.

His friend of more than 20 years, Allan Roser, said Molenaar enjoyed his time in the military "running up in the hills doing boy's stuff".

"He was an immensely strong individual. He wasn't one of these psychotic types. It's just a real all-round shame."

Mr Roser said his friend was a "hard bugger" but did not drink, smoke or take hard drugs.

It has been claimed that Molenaar, who was also a bouncer at Napier pubs for several years, had an ongoing feud with a local Mongrel Mob gang but would not be intimidated.

Mr Roser said Molenaar had been interested in guns "but not from a psycho angle".

"But he knew enough about the world that if any circumstance arose he could take care of his and his own."

Last night, before the siege ended, Mr Roser had resigned himself to the possibility he would never see his friend again. "He's a very determined bloke. He doesn't do this sort of thing lightly. But I am sure if he could turn back the clock, probably he would. It's just a real tragedy."

Meanwhile, family and workmates of Molenaar's partner, Delwyn Keefe, said they were shocked she could be involved in such a tragedy.

The 43-year-old fled the Chaucer Rd home she shared with Molenaar as the drama unfolded on Thursday.

Her father Johnny Keefe told the Weekend Herald he hadn't spoken to his daughter in about 10 years - ever since he split from Ms Keefe's mother.

"I don't know anything ... I don't know who she has been [living] with."

A relative phoned Mr Keefe on Thursday night and told him and his partner she thought his daughter was "somehow" connected to the shooting.

Mr Keefe worried about her all night and was relieved to hear she was out of harm's way.

It is understood Delwyn Keefe has four children, the youngest about 18.

She has been on holiday from her job at Higgins Contractors this week and colleagues were shocked to discover her partner was the gunman.

A source said she was a good worker and not someone you would expect to be "in with the wrong crowd".

The only time workmates ever saw Molenaar was when he picked Ms Keefe up from work.