Counsellors say Sunday's horror hostage ordeal and fatal shooting could have a lasting impact on the children involved.
Police shot a man in a house on Oriana Crescent on Sunday afternoon following a 15-hour standoff. Police say the ordeal started when the man threatened his partner with a knife in the early hours of Sunday.
The woman managed to escape, making her way to a neighbour's house to call for help. Three children aged 4, 6 and 11, remained in the house with the man.
When police arrived at the property, the man was holding a large machete to the throat of one of the children. He retreated into a wardrobe with that child and a second child, while the third child, aged 11, escaped safely.
When police entered the property shortly after 3pm, the man was holding a knife to the chest of one of the children. He was shot dead by police.
Video of the incident showed two children being carried from the house in the arms of Armed Offenders Squad members in black tactical gear.
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Bay of Plenty registered counsellor and trauma therapist Irene Begg said the children would likely initially feel shock, confusion and disbelief. They could have difficulty sleeping, intrusive thoughts and flashbacks to the event and the lead-up to the incident.
"It has a marked impact on their sense of safety in the world and probably will do for some time that would need child therapy to deal with."
Begg said a traumatic event could affect the "way their brains are wired" and as an adult, the trauma might manifest as feeling numb and stunned by the shock of what happened.
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She said it would be good for the children to see a counsellor "sooner the better so that they could begin to unpack, discuss and work through the trauma they experienced".
It was likely the children would need ongoing support, but it depended on the degree of the traumatic events they had been exposed to.
Begg believed that children affected by traumatic events could recover with the right support and she urged people to speak up about if they witnessed or heard about family violence in their neighbourhood.
"If you see something, say something and do something," she said. "[People] don't want to interfere or think it's their business. The community has a big responsibility to not turn a blind eye to the yelling and screaming at the neighbours."
Registered Tauranga-based counsellor Caleb Johnston, who works with children, said the traumatic incident would have a "definite effect" on the children's brain development and mental health.
"The survival part of the brain gets extremely heightened through traumatic events and then the brain struggles to regulate as it develops . . . Anxiety and depression are certainly symptoms of that trauma."
He said children who witness traumatising events needed access to consistent support throughout their life, particularly in their childhood and teenage years, otherwise there was a risk they could end up in the mental health system or in prison.
He said the cost of mental health services could be a barrier to the children getting the ongoing support they needed.
"The cost of supporting and helping now is far lower than if we leave it and do nothing."
"It could cost a life and we can't measure that in dollars."
New Zealand Police Association regional director Scott Thompson said different officers would process a traumatic incident differently.
"It's a tragedy that a person had to lose their life. Cops are there to keep people and society safe."
He said support for police staff in the aftermath of incidents had improved in "leaps and bounds" in recent years, particularly with the introduction of the Critical Incident Policy.
"No one can change what happened but [actions] can be made to ensure there was no more carnage."
Victim Support Bay of Plenty area manager, Lydia Allen, said the fatal shooting was a "tragic set of events" and a traumatic death could leave many needing support, including witnesses and immediate and extended family.
Allen said Victim Support had local support workers who were able to support the family through the "practical and emotional challenges ahead".
Need to talk?
Help is available to witnesses of the fatal shooting by calling Victim Support on 0800 842 846.
If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
Or if you need to talk to someone else:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (Mon-Fri 1pm to 10pm. Sat-Sun 3pm-10pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• Samaritans 0800 726 666