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The man was seriously injured in the shooting in Kaiapoi, north of Christchurch, last night. He had surgery this morning at Christchurch Hospital and is in a serious but stable condition.
Canterbury District Commander Superintendent John Price said the man was allegedly threatening people with a metal bar and knife.
When officers arrived at the scene at Williams St about 7.20pm, he attacked the police car with the metal bar, Price said. A photo at the scene showed a police vehicle with a cracked windscreen.
The man was not co-operative with police, and tactical options including a taser, pepper spray and negotiation were deployed multiple times, Price said.
These methods had no effect on the man or his behaviour. The confrontation moved to Peraki St. The man then went into a private residential driveway while police continued talking to him.
After a further period of negotiation, police fired multiple shots, injuring the man, Price said. The man was struck in the abdomen, chest and limbs.
It was not known at this stage how many police officers fired shots.
Police gave medical assistance to the man before he was rushed to Christchurch Hospital.
The standoff last night lasted between 15 to 20 minutes, from when police first came across the man, to the shots being fired.
Price urged witnesses to come forward. Anyone with CCTV or cellphone footage was encouraged to contact police on 105.
Police officers were being supported "as this will have a huge impact on them and their whanau", he said.
"This isn't the outcome anyone wanted to happen.
"The last thing any police officer wants to do is to have to use firearms."
The family of the man - who cannot be identified at this stage - had been notified and were also being supported. He was known to police, Price said.
The IPCA has been notified, while a police investigation and a critical incident inquiry is also under way.
"We understand this will be a shock to the Kaiapoi community and we want to reassure them that there is no ongoing risk," Price said.
Price stressed that the shooting was not connected to another violent incident hours earlier in Sockburn, a suburb of Christchurch.
In that incident, a woman in her 50s was stabbed while walking home in a random attack. A 37 year-old man has been charged with murder.