Police say weapons that are family heirlooms are among those that have been surrendered and destroyed in the Government's firearms buy-back, which was hosted at the Waihi Rugby Club and Whangamata Hall recently.

Among the Police present at the amnesties was Waikato Acting District Commander Warwick Morehu who said gun owners were treated like good citizens making their contribution to the safety of the community.

Costs nationwide for the buy-back had been estimated at between $50 million and $170 million.

Guns were destroyed on-site.


The buy-backs in Waihi and Whangamata were quiet, and had been "overwhelmingly positive", the Acting Superintendent said.

"They are worth big money but they're getting well compensated. But they're having to part with a weapon they've had for many years.

"If you look at it in a Maori term, they're taonga to them. A lot of them are possessions that are dear to them. A lot have been handed down to them and there's that feeling of loss.

"From our point of view, we're really cognisant of that, we have empathy for all people coming in. We try and treat them with the utmost respect."

He said the majority of gun owners had indicated they felt fairly compensated which made it a success. But that did not account for the sentimental value held by some.

Police Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement announcing details of the firearms buy-back and amnesty.
Police Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement announcing details of the firearms buy-back and amnesty.

"This is part of the healing process. There wouldn't be one New Zealander who didn't feel something on 15 March.

"We're talking about good citizens that have a strong conscience.

"They want to make their contribution to community safety. A lot of the gun owners coming in ... it has been put on them. [But] when you see what's going on around the world, and the stance our Prime Minister and the rest of the country have taken, you have got to feel good about that."


He says one gun owner arrived at the Waihi buy-back and also came to Whangamata.

"He was coming to see what the system was like and came back with more weapons today. He said he came here looking for faults but couldn't find one.

"After Waihi he had been paid the next day and said he would tell more of his mates. There are a lot of people sitting back and watching and listening to others. They've got until December."

One Whangamata 80-year-old was awaiting word from Police on whether he could keep the Short Magazine Lee-Enfield Mark III rifle he bought 62 years ago, and which had been modified to hold a five-round magazine.

A magazine that holds more than 10 rounds is prohibited.

The weapon began production in 1907 at Enfield on the northern outskirts of London and post World War II, was among those converted by top class gunmakers into sporting rifles.
"It's got all its history," he said.

Acting Superintendent Morehu said Police are connected to teams liaising with Muslim leaders, and they also understood there were good people coming in to do the right thing.
"There wouldn't be one Muslim leader who wouldn't acknowledge what they're doing. The community is feeling a lot safer as a result."

He said Matamata was among the busiest of locations he'd attended so far, and while the Whangamata buy-back event was quiet, some gun owners were opting to travel for privacy.

Among those surrendering weapons were partners of gun owners who had used the amnesty to empty out cupboards after the death of their partner, and they had been "astonished" at what the weapons and parts were worth.

There were nine uniformed staff and about a dozen civilian staff involved in the operation.