One bullet ended 15 hours of terror in Tauranga where two children were held hostage by a man with a machete.

It also ended the life of the man holding them captive, whose family and neighbours believe had been turning his fortunes around.

Police yesterday defended Sunday afternoon's raid, when they stormed a house in the suburb of Bellevue and shot dead the man holding two children, aged 4 and 6, hostage.

Police maintain they had no choice but to shoot the man after he threatened the children and confronted police. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

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Yesterday police forensic and criminal investigators worked in the white two-storey house where the body of the man still lay.

Armed offenders squad members rescue the two children who had been held hostage for 15 hours. Video / Supplied

Early in the afternoon, a group of around 10 people, who appeared to be family of the man who died, arrived at Oriana Cres, preceded by a hearse.

People in the group were hugging and crying.

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Shortly after, police held up a silver tarpaulin to shield a woman and two children from view as they arrived at the address.

The group sang in te reo Māori as the hearse readied to leave the home.

Tauranga Mayor Tenby Powell yesterday met relatives of the man, who he said were "really upset".

"They had lost a brother. A mother had lost a son.

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"They were sad. They believed he was getting his life on track."

Powell said he hoped to help the family feel "less alone" and extend them support and empathy, as he hoped the rest of the community would also do.

"At times like this, we need to rally around each other."

A Bay of Plenty District Health Board spokeswoman confirmed the two children taken to Tauranga Hospital were released later on Sunday night. They were not injured in the ordeal.

In videos of police entering the house, nine loud bangs could be heard in quick succession.

Neighbours thought they were gunshots.

A scene guard and forensic investigator outside the Oriana Cresc house on Monday. Photo / George Novak
A scene guard and forensic investigator outside the Oriana Cresc house on Monday. Photo / George Novak

"There was a bang, bang, bang, then a slight pause and then bang, bang, bang again," one resident said.

Another described "bullets coming through the roof". But police say they fired only one shot.

"We understand residents have reported hearing multiple shots being fired," a spokesperson said.

"This was likely to have been distraction devices, which were deployed twice upon police entry and which can produce a sound similar to rapid gunfire."

Investigations into the full circumstances of the incident have started, with the Independent Police Conduct Authority confirming yesterday that it was also likely to start an inquiry.

Former police negotiator Lance Burdett said: "The first [consideration] is, 'how can we get everyone out safely?', and then we'll work back from there. They'll be trying to touch base to talk with the person, to de-escalate the situation and come to a peaceful conclusion, and that's what the main aim is," Burdett said.

A member of the Armed Offenders Squad exits the house with a little girl in his arms. Screenshot / Supplied
A member of the Armed Offenders Squad exits the house with a little girl in his arms. Screenshot / Supplied

"From the little I know about this — is it a successful outcome?

"Probably not, because we try to get people out as safely as possible. But looking at the whole outcome, it's the best that could be hoped as it was an intense situation."

One person who lived near the shooting said the man had been "trying to turn his life around" after a stint in prison.

She said the children at the centre of the hostage situation went to school with her children.

The neighbour used to see the man, whom police have not named, walking the children to school.

Her friend who used to live next to the man knew him well and he had reached out to her last week.

"She said he had previously got out of jail and was trying to turn his life around. She is really devastated at the moment."

Police hold up a tarpaulin as a woman and two children arrive at the house on Monday afternoon. Photo / George Novak
Police hold up a tarpaulin as a woman and two children arrive at the house on Monday afternoon. Photo / George Novak

The neighbour, who had lived on Oriana Cres for about 12 years, said the family had lived at the address for a while.

But she said the man had only come up to live at the address in the past year.

"Otherwise I haven't seen him around before. It's sad because he was trying to do a good thing with [the] kids."

She was stuck inside her home on Sunday during the 15-hour standoff.

About 3pm she heard what sounded like a "bomb and then a whole lot of glass shattering".

Marsh Holloway said he lived four houses down from the property.

"We had only heard rumours of what was going on and when we found out kids were involved it became quite terrifying. I also have small children and I had seen these kids before."

Holloway said that just after 3pm he saw the armed police head back around the property, followed by smashing glass and then gunfire.

"My wife and kids started crying as no one knew what had happened to the children," he said.

"Soon after we saw two officers come out with the kids and they were put straight into an ambulance."

Holloway said neighbours were relieved to see the children were safe.

How it unfolded

Saturday

11pm

Neighbours hear people arguing at an address at Oriana Cres before hearing a loud bang.

Sunday

12.25am

Police called to the property in Oriana Cres after a man threatened his partner with a knife.

Woman escapes from the house and makes her way to neighbour's house to call the police. Three children remain inside with the man.

Police enter the property to find the man holding a large machete to the throat of one of the children.

The man takes two children, aged 4 and 6, inside a wardrobe. A third child, 11, is rescued by police.

The Police Negotiation Team and Armed Offenders Squad called to the scene. The man engaged intermittently with police.

4.30am
Neighbour wakes to go fishing and finds police cars parked down the street.

12pm

A large presence of armed police in full tactical gear and police dogs seen down the street. Neighbours told to stay inside by police.

2.30pm
Neighbour sees police flying drones over the property and "a lot more movement from officers".

3pm

Police receive medical advice with "grave concerns" for children's health due to their ages, lack of food and potential for dehydration.

3.30pm

Police enter the property where the man confronts them.

The man is shot by police and pronounced dead at the scene.

Neighbours describe hearing loud bangs and glass shattering.

Witnesses see police climb a ladder leading to an upstairs room.

Downstairs, armed offenders squad officers are seen running out of the bottom floor of the property carrying two children out.

Two girls, aged 4 and 6, were taken to Tauranga Hospital with minor injuries.

5.30pm

Bay of Plenty district commander Superintendent Andy McGregor answers questions at a media stand-up at the Tauranga Police station.

Monday

9am

Media told two young girls had been discharged from hospital.

About 10.30am

Mayor Tenby Powell meets with the victim's family.

12.20pm

A hearse arrives at the scene.

1pm

A group of people who appear to be the family arrive at the scene.
They are seen hugging each other and crying.

2pm

The people at the address sing a waiata together as the hearse readied to leave.

A group of about 10 adults and children remained at the house with police after the hearse left for about 10 more minutes before leaving the address.

- Additional reporting: NZME