10 May 2021

Operation Tauwhiro: More than 300 firearms seized, 378 arrests

12:29 pm on 10 May 2021

Police have seized more than 300 firearms since launching a national strategy to stamp out gun-related violence.

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(File image). Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Operation Tauwhiro aims to disrupt and prevent gun violence by criminal gangs and organised crime groups.

Since the operation was launched in February, 350 firearms and $2.4 million in cash have been seized, and 378 people have been arrested on firearms offences.

Police said a recent search warrant in Auckland had resulted in the seizure of 11 starter pistols that were being modified to live firing firearms.

Another search warrant in Northland located 10 firearms - seven semi-automatic rifles, one bolt action rifle, and two shotguns.

In a statement, assistant commissioner for investigations Lauano Sue Schwalger said the results of the operation have been "significant".

Schwalger said police were cracking down on those who owned unlawful firearms or were involved in violence using firearms.

"This kind of offending is completely unacceptable and is a high priority for investigators."

A Firearms Investigations Team was also established, which Schwalger said would "investigate the illegal manufacture, modification, and supply of firearms to gangs and organised crime groups".

A search warrant by the team in Auckland resulted in the seizure of eight firearms, and a large amount of ammunition after person was found to be unlawfully in possession of a legally purchased firearm.

In a statement, Bay of Plenty District Commander Superintendent Andy McGregor said 53 firearms related arrests have been made in the district since the operation was launched.

"In addition to the enforcement effort our staff are meeting various community groups with the aim of building community resilience and to understand where there are prevention opportunities," McGregor said.

"We are partnering with community leaders we already have strong relationships with and getting others onboard to get their support."

Another part of the operation was to address social drivers of organised crime and the harm it causes.

"Primarily, our ambition is to ensure communities are resilient and feel safe. Operation Tauwhiro has a strong focus on community engagement and prevention," Schwalger said.

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