Police confiscated 11 guns belonging to Waikato farmer Steve Meier as a "precautionary step" when they accompanied Transpower contractors onto his land yesterday.

Police were called by Transpower to accompany contractors onto the Matangi farm after a fire sparked by pylons in a shelterbelt of trees led to the major power disruption in Auckland, parts of the Waikato and Northland.

Hamilton City area commander, Inspector Rob Lindsay, said 11 guns were taken by police as well as Mr Meier's gun licence.

"Under section 61 of the Arms Act, where officers suspect an offence has or is about to be committed we are able to write out a warrant to recover the firearms which is what occurred last night.

"The firearms were taken under these circumstances because the landowner presented behaviour that gave us some concern. This was a precautionary step only and no arrests were made," said Mr Lindsay.

He said five armed officers went on to Mr Meier's property to accompany Transpower contractors.

"The repairs were necessary after the power cables had shorted and a fire had started, fire crews had been to the address to extinguish the blaze about an hour earlier," Mr Lindsay said.

Mr Meier has fought a five-year battle with Transpower. He has never made a secret of the fact he doesn't want its workers or pylons on his land. He blames Transpower for the cuts.

For the past five years Mr Meier has fought against having the company's workers or pylons on his 13ha property at Matangi near Hamilton.

He says he warned Transpower five years ago that a fire would happen on the land.

However, company chief executive Patrick Strange said Mr Meier was the most difficult person in the country to deal with.

Transpower finally got access to the farm last night with an armed police escort - but not before five chaotic hours. Power was down as firefighters tackled the blaze.

"We have had major difficulties with this guy," said Dr Strange. "We do have a right to enter the property but we can't just walk on. We have to deal with him in a legal sense.

"We have been trying to get on the land for some months. We've been sending him notices saying we needed to do tree-trimming."

For the past five years, Mr Meier has tried to get trespass orders against the grid operator, staged protests and attended Federated Farmer meetings with about 50 other landowners in the area upset at the company's refusal to pay for easement rights for hosting its structures.

Transpower has a right under legislation to enter properties to undertake maintenance work and has no legal obligation to compensate landowners as long as no "injurious effect" results.

Mr Meier's farm has about six sets of lines running through it, including the Whakamaru-to-Auckland line, which had to be turned off so firefighters could put out the blaze yesterday.

He was inconsolable as the flames engulfed his pines and caused at least four explosions as the lines short-circuited.

Meanwhile electricity lines company Vector has not yet decided whether it will compensate customers or seek compensation from Transpower over the power outage.

Transpower had to ask Vector to reduce pressure on the network by implementing rolling outages.

Traffic lights went out - forcing police to control intersections - and more than 50,000 homes were left powerless and some businesses were forced to close.

Vector's chief executive Simon MacKenzie said the company would look into the issue of compensation as part of the investigation into what happened.

However he said: "In these kind of circumstances there is not usually compensation made."

Auckland City Mayor John Banks said the disruption was the result of "under-investment, callous disregard by Government and reckless management by Transpower". He said it was a "Third World power supply" and Transpower executives "on their huge salaries" would be "held to account. I'll be talking to the Prime Minister and other relevant ministers about this".

Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee said Mr Banks' reaction was "a little bit over the top", given the problems the company had getting on to the farm.

Yesterday's incident couldn't be seen as a system failure, he said. "There was no failure as far as I can see of equipment. There was a fire. Whenever there is a fire, there is going to be potential for damage."

He said the fire was compounded by the Otahuhu power station and two other circuits being out of action for routine maintenance.

"There was a multiplicity of reasons (for the outage) and the way to fix it is to have the new high tension lines through the Waikato built as quickly as possible," he told Radio New Zealand.

Mr Brownlee said Mr Meier's version of events was only "one side of the story".

"There is overdue maintenance in the transmission group from one end of the country to the other and that's about previous government neglect."

He said the National government had approved over $4 billion of capital expenditure to bring the grid "up to speed" but that it would take time to see the work completed.

Transpower is this year due to start an upgrade, worth at least $20 million, to increase the amount of electricity transported on the existing grid line. But it needs access to Mr Meier's property and is liaising with his lawyer.

Last year, electricity supplies to Auckland were disrupted twice, including after one major incident in which the Marsden Pt oil refinery was forced to close.

- With NZPA