On November 13, 1990, the tiny settlement of Aramoana was ripped apart when gunman David Gray went on a rampage, killing 13 men, women and children, and injuring three more. Twenty years on the wounds and memories are just as raw.

It was not the hail of bullets from David Gray's semi-automatic rifle that nearly brought Julie-Anne Bryson down - it was the guilt that haunted her in the minutes, weeks and months that followed.

Guilt that she kept driving along Aramoana's Muri St as Gray fired bullets at her van; guilt that she had failed to protect her daughter and a friend - shot and trapped in a burning house; guilt that she had not stopped a local policeman who rushed to the scene and was later killed; guilt that she survived and her fiance, Garry Holden, didn't.

When 9-year-old Chiquita Holden arrived at her house that Tuesday evening, yelling that neighbour David Gray, 33, had shot her father Garry and herself, Bryson thought the shooting must have been accidental.

Wrapping towels round Chiquita's wounds in her stomach and arm, Bryson - now Julie-Anne Tamati - loaded Chiquita in her van, telling two 6-year-old boys out riding their bikes to go next door to the grandfather of one of them. It would be the last time she saw the little boys alive.

Tamati was convinced the shooting was a mistake. But as she drove round the corner towards Garry Holden's house, there was Gray on the verge firing bullets at her. And then she saw the house on fire and knew her adopted daughter Rewa, 11, and Garry's other daughter Jasmine, 11, were probably inside.

With Gray peppering her van with bullets and a terrified Chiquita beside her, Tamati made a split-second decision. She put her foot down and kept on driving.

"That was the worst thing - that I didn't stop. I felt like a failure as a mother."

Later, huddled with locals at the end of the road waiting for the ambulance - watching smoke fill the air and hearing the gunshots from Gray's 35-minute rampage of death - Tamati watched Sergeant Stewart Guthrie, 41, speed past in his car. Guthrie knew David Gray and thought he might be able to talk to him, get him to surrender. In the end, Guthrie was Gray's final victim. Gray picked him off in the sand dunes with his high-powered rifle.

The tiny settlement of Aramoana would never be the same, forever labelled as the massacre town in any Google search. Before it was simply a village, 27km from Dunedin but a million miles away from city life - a rag-tag collection of Fibrolite baches dotted among rolling sand dunes, tidal flats and scrubby bushes - perfect terrain for a sniper.

There were plenty of places for Gray to hide - and very few in which the residents and police could safely take cover.

It would be days before the shocked people of Aramoana could piece together what had happened after Gray pumped seven bullets into Holden, his neighbour for years.

After Gray started firing, Chiquita, her sister Jasmine and friend Rewa ran inside Holden's house in terror, cowering under a table. Gray came after them, striding into the house and shooting Chiquita in the stomach and arm. She stood up and ran, passing the body of her dead father on the lawn outside.

Jasmine and Rewa tried to escape Gray but didn't stand a chance. After shooting them, Gray spread accelerant on the floor and set fire to the building. Pathologists had to use Jasmine's crystal pendant and Rewa's carved bone pendant to identify the girls.

With his neighbour's house alight, Gray walked to his backyard to watch and wait. When Aramoana locals, drawn by the smoke, turned up to help, Gray began picking them off too - James Dickson, 45, Vic Crimp, 71, Tim Jamieson, 69.

Elderly widow Eva Dickson, James' mother who was unable to walk, crawled to badly wounded neighbour Chris Cole to comfort him, dragging herself back to her house to call for help and back to Cole. He would later die in hospital from his gunshot wounds.

Vanessa and Ross Percy had been fishing when their 6-year-old son Dion and his friend, Leo Wilson (the two boys out bike riding near Bryson's house) arrived to tell them something was happening. They loaded Dion, Leo - and their bikes - into the back of their ute with their 3-year-old daughter Stacey and drove towards the smoke.

No one knows why Ross Percy, 42, stopped the ute near Gray's house but that decision gave Gray fresh targets. He started shooting, killing the two boys, shooting Ross who had dived for cover under the ute, shooting Alex Tali, 41, a family friend, and aiming lethal shots at Vanessa, 26, who was running screaming in terror down the road.

Later when Detective Paul Knox and Constable Nick Harvey crept towards the ute and the bodies lying on the road, they heard a small voice from the back of the ute say, "Don't shoot me, please." Tiny Stacey Percy was lying there still alive but wounded in the abdomen. Dion and Leo lay beside her - both dead.

As dusk fell and Aramoana fell eerily silent, Knox stayed with Stacey, crouched in the darkness with his police revolver while he talked to her. He knew if Gray came at him, he would be hopelessly outgunned. It would be 40 minutes before a car arrived, without headlights, to stealthily take Stacey to a waiting ambulance.

After taking 13 lives, and injuring two children, the reclusive gunman went on to hold the townsfolk of Aramoana captive in their cribs, and the police at bay, for more than 20 hours.

Mike Kyne, one of the anti-terrorist squad members who shot Gray, remembers the exhausting adrenalin surges of the following day. For all his madness and poor eyesight, Gray had proved to be a deadly shot. The squad members, although wearing flak jackets, had only flimsy balaclavas on their heads.

And, says Kyne, the terrain was "a sniper's paradise".

The police had more than 35 baches to check - moving with stealth and speed, kicking down doors, shouting warnings, throwing stun grenades, telling the terrified residents they came across to stay down and stay put.

Kyne says they did 29 baches before they found the right one: broken windows, movement in a bach that should have been empty. A stun grenade bounced back off a mattress and base Gray had put across a window. He fired, Kyne fired back trying to contain Gray while squad members got in position. Less than 10 seconds later Gray burst through double French doors, screaming and holding his lookalike AK47.

Kyne: "We told him to put the weapon down and he didn't, he brought it up and we shot him". Of the 11 bullets fired, five hit Gray.

But Gray got bullets off too. The Fibrolite shed against which three of the men were standing was peppered with bullets. One squad member was hit in the ankle. Two vintage cars inside the shed had bullet holes in the bodywork.

And while Gray was down, he was still fighting, screaming "Kill me, f***ing kill me".

Kyne: "We would have been happy to oblige but it would have been illegal."

Instead the squad members, after kicking the AK47 away, had "a hell of a fight" for about 45 seconds.

Kyne has never witnessed a struggle like it. Gray, a "wee skinny weed" had the super-human strength of a man fired up on adrenalin.

"We twisted his arm to break it ... got him on to his stomach ... one had a boot on his head ... turned him over and put two plastic handcuffs on him. His shoulder looked like it had been dislocated but still he struggled and screamed.

"He pulled his hands out of those bloody handcuffs. It was just sheer strength and I've never seen one of those break before."

But as Gray's bullet wounds began to take their toll, the fight suddenly went out of him.

In Rob Sarkies' movie about the massacre, Out of the Blue, showing next Saturday on TV3, the squad members are shown standing around casually, smoking cigarettes, watching a mortally wounded Gray die.

"That's bullshit," says Kyne. "Poetic licence."

There were no cigarettes and ambulance staff were there quickly - simply because the squad had called for backup from an Iroquois helicopter, in case Gray escaped, and an ambulance - in case one of them was injured in the expected gunfight.

Twenty years on, Aramoana is a different place. The streets have been sealed, street lighting put up, new houses built. A memorial to Gray's 13 victims sits near the sand dunes. Someone added Gray's name on a home-made brass plaque. The plaque was removed.

Chiquita went to live with her mother, Julie Holden, later studied fashion design in Dunedin and had a son. She joined Dunedin Victim Support Service as a co-ordinator and last year appealed for more volunteers to help the victims of crime.

Stacey Percy went to live with her grandparents after Gray killed her parents and brother. She lives a quiet life in Port Chalmers with her partner.

A new house has been built on Gray's site, and next door a handsome old house was moved on to the empty section and onsold.

Julie-Anne Tamati, struggling to understand and forgive, planted daffodils at Gray's old place, and sprinkled crystals on the site of the Holden house.

Now 57 and remarried, she has started a new life in Perth. Her son and daughter by her first marriage, both in their 30s, also live in Australia. For years she suffered ill health and struggled with depression.

Rewa's birthday in August and Christmas were always tough. Julie-Anne and her former husband Allan fostered Rewa as a baby and later adopted her. What happened to Rewa and Jasmine is never far from her mind.

After the massacre, Tamati had a film developed from her camera and found a photo of Chiquita, Jasmine and Rewa taken on that final day. Rewa is wearing a red sweatshirt emblazoned with the words "Be happy".