Armed police have been patrolling streets across Hawke's Bay amid a spate of ongoing gang violence in Napier.
Minister of Police and Napier MP Stuart Nash confirmed the need for armed police in Hawke's Bay was being reviewed on a daily basis. following three days of incidents, starting with an assault at Anderson Park, Greenmeadows, on Sunday.
A man aged in his 20s was admitted to hospital with a broken jaw.
Over the next few hours a person was reportedly struck by a vehicle across town in Geddis Ave, Maraenui, a man arrived at the Napier Medical Centre with a stab wound, and a shot was fired outside the Wellesley Rd centre after patched gang members had gathered in the area.
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Continuing three days of possibly related incidents, two shots were reported to have been fired at Awatoto on Tuesday night, after which three firearms were found in a vehicle which was stopped by police soon afterwards in Kennedy Rd, Napier, Detective Inspector Mike Foster said.
"We've seen gang members stabbed," Foster told Radio New Zealand.
"We've seen turf wars down at Anderson Park between Mongrel Mob and Black Power, which is not unusual but it is ramping up so we've got staff visible down there at the moment."
Nash said police around the country make arming decisions based on the need to keep communities and frontline staff safe.
Similar arming of staff has taken place in Hawke's Bay over the years, most notably during the two-months-long hunt for gang associate Terance Thompson after he shot dead policeman Glenn Mckibbin in a suburban Flaxmere street in April 1996.
"I know that they don't take this decision lightly and that the situation will be kept under review on a regular basis," Nash said, adding it is a temporary measure due to heightened concerns, and members of the public should be "reassured" by the presence of armed police.
"I expect police to keep the public informed, as appropriate to any significant dangers to wider public safety," he said.
He said the Labour-led Government had increased resources for police in the Eastern District of Hawke's Bay and Gisborne Tairawhiti and the District Commander has used the extra police officers to establish a Gang Focus Unit dedicated to preventing and responding to organised crime involving gangs.
Foster told RNZ there were about 1000 gang members in Hawke's Bay and Gisborne, an increase of 58 percent over the last two years, and they were increasingly visible in the community, he said.
National Party policing spokesman and list MP Brett Hudson said National is committed to clamping down on gangs and will release a Law and Order Discussion Document next week highlighting some of its ideas for "addressing the growing gang problem in New Zealand".
He rejected suggestions gang membership growth was spurred by issues for teenagers and young men stemming from the removal of families' state housing in the term of the last National government.
Police have said there was a second "incident" near Anderson Park on Monday night, and on Tuesday night two men were arrested in a vehicle containing three allegedly unlawful firearms, following reports of a firearm being discharged in the Awatoto area south of Napier.
Haami Te Hore, 31, and Alexandra Timu, 22, appeared today in Napier District Court, entering no plea to a charge of unlawful possession of firearms, specifically a shotgun, a .22 and a .270. Each was remanded on bail to appear again on December 12.
Foster said police were still seeking people alleged to have been involved in Sunday's incidents.