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:

Community contributions

2 comment has been posted about Thirteen shot dead at Aramoana

What do you know?

Peter Mcgregor

Posted: 30 Sep 2017

Well David Gray had obviously some mental health issues and shot his neighbor and only friend Garry Holden and his daughter and his partners daughter and only one of his kids survive like Stacey Percy who lost her mum and dad and brother and Sgt Stewart Guthrie who was doing his job and was shot doing his job and he deserves that medal he got Mrs Helen Dickinson who crawl through a ditch three times to help the man Chris Cole and those brave police officers and Paul Knox who took his jacket to keep the young girl warm and nick Harvey those officers did a good job and there was only one portable radio and the movie was good but I loved reading the book by Bill obrien amazing man who went to Vist Mrs Dickinson an got her George medal back how could someone do that to people like here i have been to memioral for those who lost their lives at Aramoana on the 13th of November 1990 Rob Sarkies who did the movie out of the blue gives you insight into the mind of David Gray how could he do that to Jasmine and Rewa burn those poor children and kill Sgt Guthrie policemen doing his job