A number of Kiwis are expressing their disdain at the idea of armed police patrols in New Zealand after the controversial Armed Response Teams trial.

The six-month ART trial aimed to tackle a reported rise in gun crime and to boost police capabilities after the Christchurch mosques terror attacks.

It focused on Canterbury, Waikato and Counties Manukau - areas cited to have the highest rates of firearms incidents.

Former Police Commissioner Mike Bush at the South Auckland launch of the Armed Response Teams trial. Photo / File
Former Police Commissioner Mike Bush at the South Auckland launch of the Armed Response Teams trial. Photo / File

The trial ended in April and a review is now under way. But calls are mounting on social media for any plans of armed police officers to be abolished.


Amid concerns of police violence and racism towards people of colour, the website Armsdown.nz was created for Kiwis to share stories about their experiences with police and to share their opinion on armed officers.

The hashtag #ArmsDownNZ was also trending on Twitter in New Zealand, skyrocketing in popularity after the death of black man George Floyd at the hands of a white police office in Minneapolis last week.

Subscribe to Premium

Floyd died after an officer pressed his knee onto Floyd's neck for several minutes as he was being arrested on May 25.

The officer has since been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Riots have since raged across the United States of America.

Arms Down NZ spokesperson Emmy Rakete said the response around the campaign had been "overwhelmingly positive".

"In just the 24-hour period after the racist police murder of George Floyd in the United States, we had 10,000 sharing the hashtag," Rakete said.

"We see what happens in countries like America: when we have armed frontline police officers we get racist police killings.

"We do not accept that for this country and we don't need to, that's why so many people have come to Arms Down."


People had shared stories of being assaulted and harassed by police officers.

After the ART trial was announced in October last year, there were outcries about a lack of community consultation, especially from Māori.

The trials were conducted in areas with a disproportionate number of Māori people, and those communities were also disproportionately targeted by police, Māori justice advocates Sir Kim Workman said last week.

Between 2009-2019, two-thirds of all people shot by New Zealand Police were Māori or Pasifika.

George Floyd killing: National Guard mobilised amid clashes with police
George Floyd death: Arrested police officer's wife announces she is leaving him
George Floyd death: Hundreds take to streets of Los Angeles to protest
George Floyd killing: Cop charged with murder after kneeling on neck

The police are evaluating the ARTs trial but would not comment on what it might find.


A spokesperson said police were "committed to remaining a generally unarmed police service".

"Any options that come out of the review will be consulted with communities as part of our efforts to take a collaborative approach to policing.

"How the public feels is important as we police with consent of the public, and that is a privilege."