A Rotorua primary school had planned to practice its lockdown procedure this week, but a machete-wielding man meant it had to do it for real.

Senior Sergeant Mike Membery of the Bay of Plenty Police District Command Centre said a man allegedly hit a parked car with a machete near Westbrook Primary School this morning.

Westbrook Primary School principal Colin Watkins said during the morning tea break, staff noticed something strange going on.

"When a couple of police cars and the Armed Offenders Squad pull up on the school parking lines you think something is up.


"It was our morning tea, a lot of kids were out playing. We rung the lockdown bell and staff saturated the playground, but nobody panicked.

"It was kind of funny as last week, on Friday, we said to the kids we were going to have a practice of our lockdown drill, so the kids, I think to a degree, thought it might have been a practice."

He said the lockdown system included ringing the bell, sending a group text to all staff and a group email to all parents.

"Everyone locked their classrooms and pulled down their blinds. The police were really good, they said it was probably only going to be about 15 to 20 minutes and they let us know when it was over.

"We got all the kids together before home time to assure them they were safe to walk home and to make sure they felt safe.

"I tried not to put the fear of God into them, I just said there was a silly man with a big stick hitting a car."

He said he was proud of staff and students for keeping calm and following procedures.

Pupil Robbie Johnson, 9, said he wasn't scared because he felt safe.

"We were playing, we thought it was the bell, then we heard three bells and had to go inside. We had to go under the desks to keep safe and we put the blinds down."

Parent Roger Pooley said he had three boys who attended the school.

"It's a bit [disturbing] because it's the first time I'd experienced anything like that and it's close to home. The school was great, they kept me informed. It was good to know everything was safe."

Mr Membery said it was a great initiative for the school to put itself into lockdown.

A 24-year-old man will appear in Rotorua District Court tomorrow on charges of possession of an offensive weapon and wilful damage.