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Waikato fatal police shooting: Sirens and gunshots shock ‘tight-knit’ community

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A rural Waikato resident jolted awake by sirens yesterday has described hearing “two or three shots” during a nearby incident in which police fatally shot a man.

Police said in a statement yesterday that the shooting happened after an armed man entered a stranger’s home in Manawaru and threatened a parent and child.

Police had been pursuing the man and unsuccessfully tried to stop his stolen vehicle with road spikes. After the man fled into a rural house and threatened the parent and child, he was shot and critically injured. Despite medical attention, he later died.

McLaren Rd in Manawaru, near Te Aroha, remained cordoned off today with several police units inspecting scenes relating to the incident.

A McLaren Rd resident, who spoke to the Bay of Plenty Times on the condition she was not named, said she had been at home napping about 1pm.

“And then I heard the sirens and I just saw the police outside there [on the road].

“I just saw them getting their guns so I’m really scared.”

She went back into the bedroom “and then I heard some shots … maybe two or three”.

Police at a cordon near the scene of a fatal shooting on McLaren Rd in Manawaru, Waikato. Photo / Andrew Warner
Police at a cordon near the scene of a fatal shooting on McLaren Rd in Manawaru, Waikato. Photo / Andrew Warner

She stayed in the bedroom and called her husband.

She said police were at the scene until evening.

Officers came to their home yesterday and spoke to her husband, saying they could not go out because the road was closed.

School goes into lockdown

Manawaru School principal Rosemary Hendrikse told the Waikato Herald it went into lockdown as a precaution after being notified of the incident by a parent who had seen a community page online.

“We had children in the pool and wanted to be nimble if we needed to be. The staff and children had practised this in the past and responded smartly. When we heard the incident was contained, we relaxed but kept children inside.

“Parents were informed that everyone was safe, and our day carried on.”

Hendrikse said the school then became aware that “we had an issue with our regular bus run”.

“Fortunately a parent was able to come out of the blocked-off area and deliver the children in the restricted area home.”

The road was still closed this morning. Parents sorted rides to school for the children, she said.

Staff and children were “debriefed” this morning and the school had reflected on its processes.

It was now preparing for its planned family picnic event this afternoon, and she was sure families would “appreciate the opportunity to finish the week on a positive note”.

The school would “congratulate the children on how well they managed the lockdown”.

Police at the scene of a fatal shooting on McLaren Rd, Manawaru, on Friday. A man died in the incident on Thursday. Photo / Andrew Warner
Police at the scene of a fatal shooting on McLaren Rd, Manawaru, on Friday. A man died in the incident on Thursday. Photo / Andrew Warner

“We know that this event will have been more tricky for some children to deal with than others, and we will be doing all we can to turn this experience into yet another learning experience.

“This has been a terrible time for so many people and our thoughts go out to all those who have been so tragically impacted.”

Mayor ‘shocked and saddened’ by shooting

Matamata-Piako Mayor Adrienne Wilcock said she was “shocked and saddened” by the event and Manawaru was a “tight-knit rural community”.

”I feel for the innocent people caught up in this and understand local police and the community victim support group are supporting them after what must have been extremely frightening for them.

“From a community perspective, this incident was an isolated one that was initiated in Hamilton and it perhaps appears by chance that it ended within our district.”

She said local police had several incidents to attend on Thursday.

”I applaud the work they do, especially considering the staffing challenges they face.”

A second resident, who also spoke on the condition he was not named, told the Bay of Plenty Times it was normally a “quiet neighbourhood” so Thursday’s events were a “big shake-up”.

He saw lots of police cars on the road but had “no idea” what was going on and did not go to investigate.

He found out what had happened by reading the news this morning.

Investigations into fatal shooting underway

A police officer at the scene said today he could not comment and referred inquiries to the police media team.

Thursday’s police statement said the incident would be referred to the Independent Police Conduct Authority and a critical incident investigation was underway.

Police said there would be an increased presence in the area as multiple scenes were examined and staff worked to “establish a full picture of what has occurred”.

Police would also undertake a formal identification process for the dead man. Support would be provided to his family, as well as members of the public and police officers who were directly affected.

Megan Wilson is a health and general news reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times and Rotorua Daily Post. She has been a journalist since 2021.

Malisha Kumar is a multimedia journalist based in Hamilton. She joined the Waikato Herald in 2023 after working for Radio 1XX in Whakatāne.

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