Stratford's first gun buy back event is underway at Te Kapua Racecourse.

District operations manager, Inspector Peter Thurston, says he is "really pleased" with the response so far.

The two-day event began on Friday and is running until 3pm today.

On the Friday, Thurston says 59 people came through, surrendering a total of 102 firearms.


"Of those 102, 92 of them were firearms which are now deemed illegal under the new laws, while another ten were handed in as part of the amnesty currently running."

Some people have taken the opportunity to hand in an old firearm which while it is still legal, they may not use or want, he said.

Thurston said the focus is on safety, with a clear process in place to ensure all firearms are checked and all ammunition removed before they go through to the processing point.

"As people arrive, they go to the safety zone first, where our trained clearance staff check the firearm and then insert a chamber safety flag into it, so everyone can see the firearm is safe and will not go off unexpectedly or accidentally."

From there, gun owners go through to the processing area, taking about ten minutes to complete all necessary checks and paperwork before the handover is complete.

"Within three minutes of the process being completed, the firearm will have been bent," said Thurston.

The bending means the firearms are immediately rendered inoperable, he added.

He says the team are "pretty slick" at processing everything.


"They are a magnificent team to work with."

Gun owners have also helped by registering in advance online and completing the paperwork already.

"And of course, we have staff here who can do it with people on the day, of they haven't wanted to do it online or haven't been sure of the process."

Thurston said further events are planned in Taranaki, and Stratford gun owners can expect another opportunity in the town later in the year.

"So if yesterday and today weren't convenient dates, there will be other opportunities which hopefully will suit."

A free sausage sizzle is also running at the event, something Thurston says is a way to try to make the experience as pleasant as possible for people.

"Obviously some people are really upset they are having to give up their firearm, so anything we can do to make the experience as easy, friendly and pleasant as possible helps."