A team of civilian contractors and police have been travelling the Eastern District to gather now-illegal guns and accessories over the course of the buyback scheme.

The team, lead by Senior Sergeant Cory Ubels , has collected over 1000 guns across the region, with events as small as Ruatoria, where seven were collected, or hundreds in Gisborne.

On Sunday, 65 people turned up at the Eskview Rugby Club to hand over their guns.

In total 91 guns were processed at the event, and 44 bags of accessories.

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Ubels said the number one priority during the events is public safety.

No ammunition is allowed past the door, guns are checked before they can enter the building, and there are armed police at every event.

Another priority for police has been making sure the hand over is as easy for people as it can be, Ubels acknowledged that for many, their guns carry sentimental value.

He recalled at one event having to take a gun off an 80-year-old who had been gifted it by his father 60 years ago.

"He was almost in tears."

Tea, coffee and food (including sausage rolls) are offer to help with the wait, which normally lasts 20-25 minutes, but can get up to an hour for larger events.

Police even provided toys for any children tagging along with relatives.

Teams of administrators, assessor and firearms handlers work together to make the operation as smooth as possible. Photo / Ian Cooper
Teams of administrators, assessor and firearms handlers work together to make the operation as smooth as possible. Photo / Ian Cooper

Administrators check pre-filled out notification forms, or help those who did not do so before the event.

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An assessor the checks the firearm is the make and model which has been notified, and assess the condition, which can be three categories, near-new, used or poor, which dictates the price.

Ubels said it is a collaborative process, the assessor will always ask the owner what category they think it falls in and why, with a discussion if the two disagree.

A QR code linking the gun to the notification form is then attached and it is photographed in case of future disputes about the price.

The process takes about 10 minutes and the former owner is allowed to leave.

The next step is to make the guns inoperable.

A machine is used to bend the stock, the working parts and the barrel of the gun, before they are taken away and crushed.

Ubels said there had been plenty of people who supported the gun buyback scheme, especially at earlier events.

Assessor Paul Shoebridge, who checks the guns and assesses condition. Photo / Ian Cooper
Assessor Paul Shoebridge, who checks the guns and assesses condition. Photo / Ian Cooper

At the later events, he noticed more people were less supportive of the law change.

One such person was Charlie Janes, who handed in one rifle, predominantly used for pest control and hunting.

He said one word described how he was feeling: gutted.

He compared it to owning a dog which was suddenly deemed a menace to society and had to be put down.

The police had been extremely courteous, accommodating and understanding of how people were feeling, he said.

Ubels said overall, Sunday's event had run smoothly, and everyone was respectful, even those who did not agree with the legislative changes.

He wanted to remind people, whether you think it is right or wrong, the law change has made certain weapons illegal and from December 21 the buyback is over.

His advice: you might as well take the money.