Schools have been praised for their quick actions in the face of this week's shooting incident.

But one principal says social media was to blame for creating unnecessary hysteria during the lockdown.

Staff and pupils at Bellevue School were asked to stay locked in classrooms and out of sight following reports of a firearms incident outside the primary school at 8.45am on Thursday.

A woman appeared in Tauranga District Court yesterday facing charges of unlawful possession of a firearm and one charge of recklessly discharging a firearm.


Otumoetai College also went into lockdown due to their proximity to Bellevue. Principal Russell Gordon said he blamed social media for adding unnecessary hysteria.

Last week, the college was dealing with police in regards to an "implied threat" from one of its students on social media. It was unrelated to Thursday's incident, Gordon said.

"I was absolutely conscious of people making the connection between this student implied threat at the beginning of the week and what had occurred [Thursday] morning so the senior leadership team went through each classroom to let the students and the staff know what was occurring."

He said an email had been sent on Thursday evening to reassure the parents the shooting incident was not at their school but as they were nearby, it had been wise to go into lockdown.

Gordon debriefed the teachers at morning interval and students in period three, advising them of the counselling services available.

"In the midst of this you have to act reactively, but I have always sat back to think every child in our school is important to someone outside of this school.

"It is important for me to do my absolute best for their child and I want to be proud of what I have done for our kids, firstly as a dad and secondly as a principal."

Inspector Clifford Paxton said rumours and speculation spread rapidly on social media and could not be assumed to be true.


"We'd like to remind everyone that most social media posts are one person's account of an incident or event, and they should seek information from a credible source such as New Zealand police's website."

In a lockdown situation, police were responsible both for ensuring the safety of the public and for enforcing the law.

"The schools in the area did absolutely the right thing by calling police and voluntarily going into lockdown when they recognised a risk to students' safety.

"Parents and teachers should talk to students ahead of time about keeping themselves safe in any emergency situation."

Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association president Matthew Skilton said schools in the area would be continuing with normal emergency drills but would not be doing so as a result of yesterday's incident.

He said the focus now was continuing the care for students by understanding how they coped and providing the appropriate resources needed.

Tahatai Coast School principal and president of the Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association Matthew Skilton. Photo / File
Tahatai Coast School principal and president of the Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association Matthew Skilton. Photo / File

Ministry of Education deputy secretary sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said two of their staff had visited both Otumoetai College and Bellevue School since the incident.

"The schools are managing well at this time, but know we are here to provide any additional support if needed.

"Our staff do not provide counselling, but they can help direct schools to suitable counselling services."

Casey said she was aware the police were positive about the manner and timeliness that the procedures at both schools were implemented and confirmed that while records were not maintained on those incidents they were infrequent.