Children in Palmerston North were reunited with their parents last evening after a dramatic police hunt for an armed man.
Loud bangs were heard in Palmerston North in the afternoon when armed police stormed a house as they searched for the fleeing offender.
A police spokeswoman confirmed that all children from Cloverlea Primary School and Cloverlea Kindergarten had been safely evacuated by bus.
Parents were advised to collect their children from Highbury Whanau Centre on Highbury Rd.
An NZME reporter said police called parents into the centre hall about 6pm.
Police said they were "doing their best to resolve the incident, but it's not clear when that will be".
Parents were told arranging alternative sleeping arrangements wouldn't be a bad idea. "It could be a long night."
Police were searching houses on Geraldine Crescent and calling residents to ask about the number of occupants and whether there were any animals, according to a resident on the street.
Residents had become frustrated. More than 100 people were standing in the carpark of Cloverlea Tavern, but police were letting no one enter the cordoned area.
"You can get out but you can't get in," a reporter at the scene said.
Earlier yesterday Cloverlea School, Cloverlea Kindergarten and Somerset Crescent School were in lockdown.
At around 4.50pm children at Cloverlea School and Cloverlea Kindergarten were loaded onto two white coaches driven by police.
The wanted man evaded police during a high-speed pursuit yesterday morning.
The police spokeswoman said the pursuit started at 10.45am after an attempt was made to stop a car.
The driver, who was known to police and had warrants for his arrest, fled the scene in a grey Mazda.
A cordon was put in place in Peters Ave and spikes had been laid on the road. A special tactical unit van had been parked outside Cloverlea dairy and police were speaking to members of the public. There were visible skid marks outside the dairy where a car had mounted the curb.