2 Jul 2009

Cache of firearms seized near Tauranga

9:54 pm on 2 July 2009

Thirteen rifles and two pistols have been discovered during a raid by armed police near Tauranga.

The Armed Offenders Squad executed a search warrant at a rural address in Pyes Pa early on Thursday.

Police say the rifles ranged from single shot to semi-automatic and there was also a large amount of ammunition.

Two men, aged 48 and 59, are helping police with inquiries. Neither holds a firearms licence.

Senior Sergeant Glenn Saunders of the Armed Offenders Squad said the potential for disaster from the weapons recovered does not bear thinking about.

Mr Saunders said the men were found at the same address as the weapons on Taumata Road in Pyes Pa, a farming area about 30km south of central Tauranga.

City gun dealers describe the discovery as disturbing, but not altogether surprising.

Bronco Sports manager Glenn Tuck says the problem of illegally owned guns is bigger than people think and he believes there are thousands of guns without licences in New Zealand.

Mr Tuck says it is not surprising that the men in this case do not have firearms licences and claims police "simply don't know" what is out there and what guns have been illegally bought on the black market.

Hamills Tauranga manager Stacy Whiteman says if someone has enough time they can lay their hands on firearms.

Locals say Taumata Road has had issues with cannabis growing and a methamphetamine lab in recent months, and they are worried to hear of the weapons haul.