Old New Zealand

...The Aramoana Massacre...

David Gray's rampage at Aramoana remains New Zealand's worst ever mass murder. The Otago Daily Times ran the following report on November 17th, 1990.

Hours of terror end with 12 dead

A HAIL of police gunfire yesterday ended the life of the lone gunman David Gray, who shot and killed at least 11 men, women and children in 24 hours of terror at Aramoana. Two other people are unaccounted for.

Gray (33) was cut down by police anti-terrorist squad members after he opened fire on them about 6pm from the house he had holed up in during the tense and highly dangerous search for him. He received fatal gunshot wounds to the chest.

His 24-hour shooting spree - the worst criminal massacre in New Zealand's history - cost the lives of a police sergeant, several well-known local figures, children and women.

It is believed that among the victims were the former mayor of Green Island, Mr Vic Crimp, and a leader in the anti-aluminium smelter campaign, Mr Garry Holden.

Other victims - nine of whom police would not name last night - were well-known local identities who had lived in the village at the entrance to Otago Harbour for many years.

The killer was a loner who had caused concern to residents and others in the Dunedin community with his fascination for guns and the military.

Aramoana is 27km from Dunedin and about 13km from Port Chalmers. Normally it houses about 50 permanent residents, and doubles its population during holiday periods.

Shortly after 7.30pm on Tuesday, Gray began firing automatic and semi-automatic weapons indiscriminately in the village.

Why he did so is not known, but there were suggestions from locals yesterday that he held a grudge against his neighbour, Garry Holden, claiming Mr Holden, a sufferer of ME (or Tapanui flu), had passed the virus on to him.

Gray is believed to have shot and killed Mr Holden and at least one of Mr Holden's daughters, and then set fire to the Holdens' house, razing it.

Port Chalmers police sergeant Stewart Guthrie (41) was called to the village by other residents and was shot and killed by Gray as he approached.

Gray then shot and killed at least 10 others.

Police confirmed some names: Simon Christopher Cole (61) and Leo Wilson (6), of Port Chalmers, as well as Sergeant Guthrie. The bodies of two men and a woman were found on the lawn of Gray's house. Five bodies were found in a nearby street.

The body of Mr Guthrie was located in sand dunes, At least one other body was nearby.

Other residents were shot and wounded. Among them were Stacy Percy (4), of Port Chalmers, and Chiquita Holden (9), Garry Holden's elder daughter. They were in a stable condition at Dunedin Hospital last night.

ODT: 19 Sept 1990 - Massacre leaves nation in shock