The Board of Trustees at a Rotorua primary school where a young woman was found dead says its members are "shocked and saddened" by the news.

Rotorua police have launched a homicide investigation after the discovery of the body on the field of St Michael's Catholic School just before midnight on Friday.

All entrances to the school were taped off and guarded by police this morning while officers were speaking to neighbours on May Rd, along one of the school's boundaries.

A statement on the school's Facebook page said police had taken control of the school grounds while school management awaited further information.

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"Our school is a close and tight-knit Christian community, and we know that all of our staff, students and their families will be as shocked and upset about this as we are," the statement read.

Police are guarding entrances to St Michael's Catholic School. Photo / Stephen Parker
Police are guarding entrances to St Michael's Catholic School. Photo / Stephen Parker

"Obviously, our first concern is the wellbeing of our students and their families."

"We would also like to extend our deepest sympathies to the families involved. We encourage our Faith community to offer their prayers to those who grieve."

The statement was signed by the school principal, Kristina Crouch.

Detective Inspector Mark Loper said Rotorua police held a briefing on the investigation just before midday.

"A scene examination is underway with scientists from ESR, and we are trying to speak to as many people as possible," he said.

When asked how long the woman had been dead before emergency services arrived at the scene, Loper said "I can't tell you that, that's part of the investigation".

Emergency services were called to the grounds of St Michael's School in Lisa Cres at 11.40pm Friday.

On arrival, they found a 22-year-old woman who had died.

Lydia Naera, who lives opposite the school gates on Clayton Rd, said she first noticed emergency services at the school at about 11.45pm.

She said she was driving home from the pokies when "zoom, an ambulance went straight past me".

"I thought 'I will go a little bit faster and see where the ambulance is going,'" she said.

"I came into my driveway and I parked the car here and I got out and I walked back too. That's when I saw the commotion over there ... Where the ambulance was, it was in there, in the field."

Emergency services were called to the grounds of St Michaels School in Lisa Crescent just before midnight. Photo / Google Maps
Emergency services were called to the grounds of St Michaels School in Lisa Crescent just before midnight. Photo / Google Maps

She said she saw the ambulance "scraping itself over the bumpers" to get to the middle of the school, and the "police kept shooting past".

"All the cop cars amalgamated out here all the cop cars and I'm like something bad's happening!"

She watched them from her bedroom window for half an hour before going to sleep.

"They were there for ages," she said.

Police would also like to hear from anyone else who may have heard or seen anything in the area - for example, yelling or arguing – between 8pm and 11.40pm.

• If you can help, please call Rotorua police on (07) 349 9400. Information can also be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.