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School’s lockdown lesson


There was a strong police presence at St Matthew’s Collegiate yesterday. PHOTO/MARY ARGUE

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A threatening phone call plunged a Masterton school into lockdown on Thursday.

St Matthew’s Collegiate on Pownall St joined a raft of secondary schools across New Zealand this week that have evacuated or locked down after reportedly receiving bomb threats.

Wairarapa police officers were at St Matthew’s yesterday morning assessing the risk.

Officers were also stationed at the intersection of Pownall and Cole Streets blocking all access to Pownall St.

St Matthew’s Collegiate directed all inquiries to the Ministry of Education. However, in an email to parents, it said the school was the recipient of a threatening hoax phone call that had affected schools nationwide.

The school said it immediately contacted the police and Ministry of Education and was advised to lockdown.

“Police have been on premises and have assessed the situation.

“Nationally, the police have worked with the information we were able to provide, and the information received from other schools earlier in the week and today and determined the call to be a hoax.”

The school said everyone was safe and was continuing as normal.

Wairarapa College, 500m south on Pownall St, said it was unaware of St Matthew’s lockdown until after it had lifted.

Principal Matt White said the school did not take action as a result of the incident at St Matthew’s.

“It is unfortunate that these messages are going around, but we have procedures in place for if or when we get such a message.”

Police said it had received reports of numerous phone threats towards schools across New Zealand yesterday.

In addition to St Matthew’s, the only Wairarapa school to be affected, inquiries were ongoing at schools in Kaikoura, Greymouth, Queenstown, Levin, Whanganui, Rolleston, Takaka, Geraldine, Dunstan, Ashburton, and Palmerston North.

Horowhenua College in Levin said it had received a bomb threat shortly after 11am, and one affected school reported the phone call was automated from an overseas number.

In a statement, police said they “take threats of this nature extremely seriously and are making inquiries to determine the source of the calls”.

“At this stage, police do not believe there is a safety risk.”

Police did not confirm the nature of the threats at St Matthew’s.

Ministry of Education south leader Nancy Bell said she was aware of the incidents and that schools had established emergency management protocols that were activated when risk was identified.

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