The search for wanted man Hori Gemmell continues in Southland, with police searching a plane on the tarmac at Invercargill Airport and surrounding a house in Gore.

Police blocked access to Invercargill Airport and searched a plane on the tarmac as part of a massive manhunt for Gemmell, who allegedly stole a police patrol vehicle and two loaded pistols in Gore.

A police spokeswoman said they conducted the search after a report of a possible sighting of the man on an outbound plane about 8am.

"Police conducted a search of the plane and determined [Gemmell] was not on the flight."

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Police blocked the entrance to the airport as part of the search and had left by about 8.40am.

Meanwhile, armed offenders squad members, including a dog squad, have swarmed on a small tin-roofed home in Surrey Street in Gore.

A woman is sitting outside the house in the company of an armed officer and other officers are moving through the property.

Police have established armed cordons on several intersections around the property.

A police post seeking information on the wanted man has attracted over 1300 comments from Kiwis, many mocking him for his name and appearance.

Gemmell allegedly stole a police patrol vehicle and two loaded pistols in Gore late on Wednesday and remained at large last night, despite a massive manhunt involving raids on properties across Eastern Southland.

Police posted an appeal for information yesterday morning and the post soon attracted comments, leading Gemmell himself to respond via social media.

Gemmell was labelled "Gore's most wanted" by one and his appearance was widely mocked, with his facial hair labelled "bumfluff" and a "pre-beard".

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"Finally someone with a beard worse than mine," said another commenter before a plea was issued: "So sad, leave Mr Tumnus alone."

Gemmell was teased for appearing to have been crying in his police mugshot: "Poor Fulla. Looks like he's had the fat cry. Someone give him a hug."

Hori Gemmell is wanted by police. Photo / NZ Police
Hori Gemmell is wanted by police. Photo / NZ Police

The post also saw dozens of comments from people mocking Gemmell's first name and making racist comments.

Some were upset by the comments, with one person writing: "I can't believe New Zealand Police allows all this violent disgusting behavior by its citizens. There is no need for the ugly words. Just pass the info along and be polite. This is why New Zealand needs to ban hate speech and bullying."

Police did respond, asking users to "please support us by refraining from posting unhelpful or derogatory comments".

The fugitive's message was posted on Facebook. Photo / Supplied
The fugitive's message was posted on Facebook. Photo / Supplied

Gemmell spoke out on social media, writing: "stay safe Deep South, don't believe everything in the media".

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He later added "Media realise tomorrow."

Southern District Commander Superintendent Paul Basham said at a press conference in Gore yesterday the officers had left their keys in the car when they went to pursue the suspect, who then doubled back and stole their car.

He allegedly later abandoned the patrol car, taking loaded police-issue Glock pistols, using the keys to access a lock box.

Basham said the officers involved were now at home and he did not want to pre-judge their actions during the "dynamic situation", and was quick to defend the pair.

"Overall, they did a pretty good job."

-Additional reporting from ODT, RNZ

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