Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall says the stabbing incident which left one person dead and five injured on Tuesday is "a tragedy".

A police cordon remains in place at the Wicksteed St scene where one person died and multiple people were injured in a stabbing incident in Whanganui on Tuesday.

Police launched a homicide investigation following the incident and have taken one person into custody.

Three of the five injured remain in a stable condition in Whanganui Hospital while two others have since been discharged.

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The Whanganui Chronicle understands the incident stemmed from a dispute between two flats.

A source said the incident arose from an argument over "something relatively minor" between two flats who share the duplex on Wicksteed St.

Neighbours were shocked that such an incident happened on what was a normally quiet street.

Ronald Buckley lives at Kowhai Court, two houses down on Wicksteed St, and said it was a shock given he didn't hear anything at the time.

"I came outside for a fag and what a surprise that was," he said.

"It was a bloody shock, actually. I came out and saw a whole lot of cop cars and thought 'holy shit, where did they come from'?"

Trev Kereopa, a resident in the share house next to the home under investigation, said his neighbours always seemed nice.

"They were alright, they'd mind their own business and I'd say hello to them I when I saw them," he said.

"I can't really tell you how many people lived there, all I knew was the mother and daughter."

A Whanganui DHB spokesperson said the three people who were still in hospital were a woman in her 20s, another women in her 30s and a man in his 50s.

A sixth person died at the scene.

McDouall said the event was a tragedy for Whanganui.

"[It] reinforces tired old hackneyed tropes about Whanganui, which as everybody who lives here knows aren't correct," he said.

"Nevertheless it's obviously an immense tragedy for the individuals."

The cordon is centred around a residential property on the street.

A worker from medical centre Te Oranganui, who did not want to be named, said a colleague witnessed the stabbings.

Te Oranganui nurses and a doctor ran to the aid of the victims.

Blood spilled in the New World carpark in Whanganui. Photo / Lewis Gardner
Blood spilled in the New World carpark in Whanganui. Photo / Lewis Gardner

"When I got there, there was one lying on the ground. It was a big girl. She'd been stabbed, it was bad."

The worker said two other people who had been stabbed were walking around.

"You could see it. He was holding his neck and blood was pouring out. On his back, you could see where he'd been cut.

"There was another lying down, she wasn't moving. She was an older lady."

The worker believed the stabbing victims were four members of one family.

Police are investigating and speaking to nearby residents after the stabbing incident.
Police are investigating and speaking to nearby residents after the stabbing incident.

Blood was splattered across the New World carpark.

There were three upturned supermarket trolleys within the carpark cordon.

Another witness told Stuff he was putting groceries into his car when he heard cries for help.

"She had severe facial and arm lacerations, and told us she and others were attacked by a man with a knife on the corner of Wicksteed and Liverpool streets."

He helped comfort her until emergency services arrived.

During that time another man approached from Liverpool St with a stab wound to his neck and told those gathered there was another woman who was badly injured.

Emergency services were called to the incident at 4.20pm.

Baskett said one person was taken into custody immediately after the incident and police were not looking for anyone else in relation to the matter.