More than a dozen houses were evacuated yesterday afternoon after a bomb scare in Masterton.

A spokesman from Wellington police district command centre said people living within a 100m radius of a house on Margaret St had been evacuated after police were told there was a hand grenade buried in the garden.

Police had been visiting the house on another matter when a resident told them he had buried an old hand grenade in the garden for safe keeping.

Philip St and Margaret St were cordoned off, and the army were called out to help remove and dispose of the grenade. "We were not sure if it posed a real risk but they are in the process of removing it and taking it to a safe place to detonate," the spokesman said.

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"We didn't know what sort of threat it might pose so we've contacted the army -- it's obviously something we've got to treat with respect and care."

The resident had not been making any threats, he said. "It's nothing malicious, there's nothing suspicious about it."

Upon removing the grenade, it was found to have no pin and could not be detonated.