A 40mm anti aircraft gun pointing towards you is a startling image when you walk into a Kapiti double garage.

Flanking the 40mm Bofors gun are two 20mm Oerlikons.

The three guns were from New Zealand Navy vessels which served up until the late 1970s.

They were destined for the scrap yard before the collector acquired restored them.

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The three imposing guns are part of a commanding collection of military items compiled over about 15 years.

"It all began with my father's 303 which he used for deer shooting and my granddad's 22 pump action," said the collector.

"Then I joined the military at 17 and did 11 years in the Navy [Petty Officer marine engineer] so there was obvious exposure there.

"And as part of that I joined the Navy pistol club and got into competitive pistol shooting and with that came rifle shooting and everything else."

The collection started with a couple of sub machine guns and "one thing led to another".

Items, mainly from the World War II era, range from representations from United Kingdom, United States, Russia, Nazi Germany, Japan, Sweden and Finland.

"I could talk for hours on individual pieces from my own experience with them, as well as countries that used them."

One of the more famous pieces is a German MP44, which was the genesis of the original assault rifle.

"Hitler wanted another machine pistol and there was a competition in 1941/42 to design it.

"Two German designers designed two different but very similar weapons in competition but Hitler didn't like it when he heard about it because it was an assault rifle.

"He wanted a machine pistol.

"So they changed it to a machine pistol and put it out on trials in the Eastern Front in Russia and it was so popular and devastating that it went into full production.

"And this is the basis of what the Russians copied and became the Kalashnikov [AK-47].

"They made hundreds of thousands of them and at the end of the war, what was captured was dished out between countries that were victors, and were either used or destroyed.

"And as far as the collector's market goes, a small amount came into New Zealand in the 1980s and at the time no one would buy them, no one wanted them, they were worthless, but not now.

"The last one that went to auction fetched just under $12,000, so they have become a sought-after piece."

But it's not so much the aspect of warfare that appeals to the collector.

"I really appreciate the engineering that went into making these items.

"Also the historical value.

"You can go to a museum and see the displays but you can't touch them.

"You don't really get an appreciation of what they really are until you physically touch and hold them.

"And the way the world is going, with political correctness and an aversion to arms in general, as things [military items] are discovered they are most likely destroyed or they go into a museum collection and disappear.

"Museum's generally only show a small percentage of their collection, so you might not see something for a long time."

He sees himself as a bit of a custodian, preserving items for the future.

"My aspiration is to build a proper gun room and have everything on display permanently but to get to that stage will involve a lot more security.

"For what I've got at the moment everything is locked away in safes apart from the big pieces because physically you can't steal them."

The collector also noted a very important factor behind his military collection.

"I've got a very understanding wife."