The man aged in his 60s who was fatally shot by police in North Otago has been described by a neighbour as a ''quiet and very nice guy''.

A shocked Freyberg Ave resident, who did not want to be named, said he had known the man for several years and described him as a ''quiet and very nice guy''.

''He is a great guy. He was working down in town there. He was a very quiet guy and a very nice guy to talk to.

''There was nothing out of the ordinary about him at all. As far as I was concerned... I never thought anything like that would happen. I could not speak any more highly of him.''

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Acting District Commander, Southern District Inspector, Darryl Sweeney told a press conference this morning that the man "held and presented" a firearm at police before he was shot last night in Kurow.

One shot was fired at the man, who was not previously known by police.

Before the man was shot officers outside the property were briefly able to speak to the man.

Sweeney was not able to say if the man's gun was loaded.

Acting District Commander, Southern District Inspector, Darryl Sweeney.
Acting District Commander, Southern District Inspector, Darryl Sweeney.

He earlier said about 9.05pm police were called to an address for a man who had made threats of suicide.

Police were sent to the man's property in Freyberg Ave, Kurow.

Given the rural location initially only one police officer was called to the property, but the officer was later joined by colleagues.

Police were told the man may have access to a firearm, and arrived armed as a precaution.

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"Officers searched for the man and he was located at the property around 10:50pm and began speaking with officers," Sweeney said in a statement.

Focus: Police plead the public to take a stand against gun violence.

"The male was armed with a firearm."

About 15 minutes later the man confronted police while armed and was shot once before the arrival of the Armed Offenders Squad and police negotiation team, which had been requested from Dunedin.

"The officers immediately administered medical attention and the man was taken by helicopter to Dunedin Hospital in a critical condition, where he later died," Sweeney said.

"The impact of this tragic incident will be felt deeply by all involved and police has contacted the family of the deceased and is working to support them.

"Let's be really clear that a fatal shooting is an outcome that nobody in the police wants in the rural community. But unfortunately this event escalated in front of us... and will have significant and long-lasting effects on those involved."

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has been notified and a critical incident investigation was also under way.

The death is being referred to the Coroner.

Sweeney said police would remain at the scene for forensic examinations.

Armed patrols dangerous: Group

Criminal justice group People Against Prisons Aotearoa says Thursday's shooting shows police armament is dangerous.

The shooting came just over a month into the controversial trial of heavily armed police teams in three regions around the country.

"The police are totally incapable of safely dealing with our worsening crisis of mental illness," says group spokesperson Emilie Rākete.

"People in suicidal crisis, intending to harm themselves, are going to have weapons on them. If the police can't handle these situations without killing that person, they have no business being first responders."