A man has died from stab wounds after a protracted standoff with armed police in a Christchurch suburban street.

Police are now investigating whether the dead man had any link to the March 15 mosque attacks.

The 54-year-old man had been sought in relation to a firearms incident yesterday, police said in a statement.

After a tipoff from a member of the public a search warrant was executed at a St Martins property late yesterday - police discovered a cache of firearms.

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The man was located by police in a stopped vehicle in the Richmond Park area about 12.30am this morning.

The Police Negotiation Team spoke with the man for several hours. The Eagle helicopter and armed offenders squad members were also at the scene.

"At around 3.40am police approached the vehicle and discovered the man critically injured with what appeared to be a stab wound. A knife was located in the vehicle.

"Immediate first aid was provided however the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

"The man's vehicle was examined by the NZDF Explosive Ordnance Squad as a precaution and has been deemed safe. There were no firearms in the vehicle.

"Members of the public who heard what they thought were explosions were hearing Police deploying gas at the scene."

Police said a high priority investigation was underway to determine whether or not the dead man posed a threat to the community.

This will include further searches of Christchurch properties and interviews with family and associates.

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"At this time there is no evidence to suggest this person had any involvement in the attacks of 15 March, however this forms an important part of the investigation.

"We are grateful to those who alerted police on this occasion and encourage people to remain vigilant. If you see something, say something. Call 111 immediately if you see anything of any concern."

There will be a continued police presence in the Richmond Park and St Martins areas, as scene examinations continue. Police would like to thank residents in those areas for their cooperation.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has been notified.

Residents woke to sound of explosions

Residents in the quiet suburban Christchurch street earlier told the Herald they awoke to the sounds of explosions in an incident that ended when armed police dragged a man out of a damaged vehicle.

Residents in Poulton Ave, Richmond, said armed police had been in the street for four hours. They have been to told to remain in their homes.

A silver Mitsubishi Pajero SUV vehicle remained parked in the street this morning - the driver's window, rear driver's window and rear window are all smashed.

Neighbours say a man was dragged out of the vehicle.

The scene in Poulton Avenue. Photo / Dean Purcell
The scene in Poulton Avenue. Photo / Dean Purcell

Poulton Ave resident Joanna Qereqeretabua woke at around 3.30am to shouts of, "Get out of the car!".

There were then shouts of, "Police! Police!"

She looked out her window and saw a silver Mitsubishi Pajero SUV with its side lights on.

There were soon armed police and dogs in the area.

"It was very scary after what's happened here [in Christchurch]," she said.

Qereqeretabua says a robot device approached the vehicle about 4am and appeared to shatter the windows.

The driver's window, rear driver's side window and rear window are all smashed out. Photo / Dean Purcell
The driver's window, rear driver's side window and rear window are all smashed out. Photo / Dean Purcell

She heard three loud bangs but didn't think they were gunshots.

There was also a male's voice pleading for help, she said.

Another Poulton Ave resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said the commotion started about 12.40am.

"It started with loud arguing from my bedroom window and I thought I need to go have a look in case I need to call the police.

"I soon realised it was a SWAT team and they began marching down the road. There were also police cars at the end of the road, and spikes, but there was no police chase so I don't know how they found out this person was in a car at the end of the road."

A forensics team has arrived and is examining the silver Mitsubishi Pajero. Photo / Amber Allott
A forensics team has arrived and is examining the silver Mitsubishi Pajero. Photo / Amber Allott

She said the car was parked in the centre of the road, near the park.

"I went back inside, and shortly after I heard police saying 'come out with your hands up'.

"About 3am I heard the police dogs starting to bark really loudly like there was something going on, I then heard two shots.

"About 10 minutes later the SWAT team carried this person and plonked them on the road outside my bedroom window. They did medical attention.

"There is blood on the road outside my house, but the crime scene has now been cleared," she said.

Another resident, Jeffrey Chisholm, said he heard what sounded like two shots being fired at about 3.30am, and another about 4.45am.

"They were quite loud, I am not sure where they were though as I was in bed."

The police investigation is focusing on this white vehicle, covered by a blue tarpaulin.
The police investigation is focusing on this white vehicle, covered by a blue tarpaulin.

Chisholm said he could also hear a helicopter flying overhead.

He went outside to see what was happening and saw about four members of the Armed Offenders Squad who told him to stay inside.

Police phoned him at about 4.30am telling him to stay inside, before he heard what sounded like another shot at about 4.45am.

"I have no idea what was going on. We have not had anything happening in the area, it is out of the blue. It was quite dramatic."

This morning he could see police guarding a vehicle on the street near his home.

Residents of a block of flats beside where the drama unfolded were told to stay inside.

Armed police have cordoned off a street.
Armed police have cordoned off a street.

A helicopter was circling overhead and landed in the adjacent Richmond Cricket Club grounds.

Another neighbour was this morning shocked by the incident.

"You don't expect anything like this, especially after what happened the other day," he said.

Community welfare officers were checking with residents this morning.

Armed police remain guarding the scene cordon while scene examinations are ongoing.

The Canterbury Transport Operations Centre said North Parade between North Avon Rd and New Brighton Rd has re-opened.

Poulton Ave remains closed.

Motorists are advised to expect delays and to use an alternative route.