NZ to trial armed police patrols

Armed police will patrol parts of New Zealand in a trial project reflecting heightened security concerns, after a mass shooting in Christchurch in March that killed 51 people.

New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world where police do not carry guns while on general duty.

However, hand guns, rifles and tasers are kept in their vehicles and can be used with a supervisor's permission.

Frontline police were armed for several weeks following the massacre by a suspected white supremacist at two mosques in Christchurch on March 15.

"Following the events of March 15 in Christchurch, our operating environment has changed," Police Commissioner Mike Bush said in a statement on Friday.

"Police must ensure our people are equipped and enabled to perform their roles safely and to ensure our communities are, and feel, safe. This means having the right people with the right tools, skills and knowledge ready to respond at all times," he said.

The Armed Response Teams will be rolled out in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, Waikato and Canterbury on October 28, on a six-month trial.

.Police Minister Stuart Nash said the move did not mean that police would be armed routinely.

"The three areas have been selected for the trial because of the incidence of crimes involving armed offenders," Nash said.

"Police turn up to some callouts with no knowledge of what they are walking into. Every month police turn up to 200 incidents where a firearm is involved," he said..

The government banned military-style semi-automatic and other high-calibre guns within weeks of the Christchurch shooting and also introduced a gun amnesty scheme. More than 29,000 firearms have been collected so far, according to statistics provided on the police website.