Police have issued safety tips to Otumoetai Intermediate students after a man behaved suspiciously towards a 12-year-old girl crossing the Matua saltmarsh earlier this week.

A police report posted on the intermediate's Facebook page on Wednesday said the female student was asked by a man to help him find something he had lost in the bushes.

Community Constable Paul Wrigley said in the report that it was a very suspicious request.

''His true motive was unknown as the student walked away and told an adult about it. Good work by the student,'' Constable Wrigley said.


The incident was followed today by the mother of a 9-year-old Pillans Point student saying on Facebook that her daughter was approached walking home from school. She said police had been scouting the area looking for the man.

She said police had been scouting the area looking for the man.

''I taught her at a very young age what to do if a man ever approached her. Never in a million years did I think it would happen...I am so proud of my brave girl."

She said police mentioned that there had been reports of someone lurking around Otumoetai School as well. The girl was approached on Pillans Rd, near the intersection with Goods Rd.

Pillans Point School principal Matt Simeon declined to comment when approached by the Bay of Plenty Times except to say that the school was ''working through this with the correct people''.

Another Facebook post writer described how his young niece was approached near Pillans Point School by a man wearing a balaclava who told her that her mum was sick and she had to go with him. ''Luckily she ran away.''

Another post said: ''I just saw a guy and he was ducking between cars. When he stood up he had his face covered, black hoodie, had backpack etc.''

Police communications spokeswoman Jillian Reid said police were aware of the Facebook post regarding a suspicious approach in Ōtūmoetai today.

''We are currently assessing the information. If anyone has any concerns they are encouraged to call police in the first instance.''

The man on the saltmarsh path was described as skinny but of medium build, aged in his mid-40s and of European descent with grey hair.

Constable Wrigley said in his report that although plenty of students used the path across the saltmarsh, and it was generally regarded as safe, there were tips on how to stay safe when walking in areas that may not have great visibility.

Additional comment was unable to be obtained from the constable this evening.

Safety tips issued by Tauranga Police to combat stranger danger
- Walk with a dog or another person.
- If walking by yourself, choose busy times of the day.
- Avoid walking in dusk or when lighting was poor.
- Pause playing music in vulnerable areas to hear people walking up behind.