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Thirteen shot dead at Aramoana

13 November 1990

The house where David Gray was shot dead
The house where David Gray was shot dead (Alexander Turnbull Library, EP/1990/3989/27A-F)

The small seaside township of Aramoana, near Dunedin, was the scene of what was then the deadliest mass murder in New Zealand history.

David Gray, a 33-year-old unemployed Aramoana resident, went on a rampage following a verbal dispute with a neighbour. After shooting the man and his daughter, he began firing at anything that moved. Armed with a scoped semi-automatic rifle, Gray killed 13 people, including Port Chalmers Sergeant Stewart Guthrie, the first policeman to arrive on the scene.

Police located Gray the next day during a careful house-by-house search. When he burst out of a house firing his weapon, members of the Anti-Terrorist Squad (now the Special Tactics Group) shot and mortally wounded him.

A number of people involved in the incident received bravery awards, including Guthrie, who was posthumously awarded the George Cross for gallantry.

The massacre sparked lengthy debate about gun control in New Zealand and a 1992 amendment to the regulations on military-style semi-automatic firearms. This did not prevent the 15 March 2019 Christchurch mosque attacks, in which 51 people were killed in a premeditated terrorist action.

A Robert Sarkies movie about the Aramoana massacre, Out of the blue, was released in 2006. See the trailer here courtesy of NZ On Screen:

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Thirteen shot dead at Aramoana, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated