Man spotted in bushes taking photos of students

By Kristin Edge -
Staff at the Christian Renewal School on Tarewa Rd noticed a man taking photos about 9.30am on Monday. Photo / John Stone
Staff at the Christian Renewal School on Tarewa Rd noticed a man taking photos about 9.30am on Monday. Photo / John Stone

Police have issued a warning after reports of a man hiding in bushes taking photos of students at a Whangarei school.

Sergeant John Larkin urged people to contact them immediately if they noticed suspicious activity outside schools.

Staff at the Christian Renewal School on Tarewa Rd noticed a man taking photos about 9.30am on Monday.

It is believed he had hidden behind some bushes near the footpath, which ran alongside the school, and took the photos.

A staff member spotted the man but he walked away before he could be spoken to.

Acting principal Ray Green said it was concerning the man had been taking photos and supported the police call for members of the public to report such suspicious behaviour.

"We have to be more vigilant these days. Don't be afraid to contact the police. It's better to report it and be wrong than not to report it and be right," Mr Green said.

If police were notified immediately they could cordon the area and search, Mr Larkin said.

The man was described as Caucasian, about 60-years-old, and at the time was wearing a black wide-rimmed hat. He also had on tan coloured pants and a light coloured fisherman's vest with lots of pockets.

Whangarei Heads School principal Lil Ruffell said students had been warned about dealing with suspicious people. "Basically it's just if they don't know the person, they just don't respond to them, don't get into any cars, they don't need to follow their instructions, they only listen to the people that they know and trust."

Whangarei Heads was a very tight community where everyone looked out for everyone, Ms Ruffell said.

During her seven years at the school she said there had never been an incident.

"Once we were alerted to a car in the vicinity that was behaving a bit suspiciously, we reminded children [of the dangers strangers can pose] and passed it onto the parents," she said.

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