Police are investigating at least three complaints in the past week of strangers trying to lure children, including an 8-year-old boy, into cars in Whangārei.

The incidents are not believed to be related but police are asking parents, caregivers and teachers to reiterate the "Stranger Danger" message to children under their care.

In the latest incident, an 8-year-old boy walking home in Tikipunga was asked by a man to get in a car yesterday afternoon. He ran home and informed his mother who called police.

Whangārei police Sergeant Mohammed Atiq said a grey car was seen parked on the side of a road with a fair-skin male with white hair in it. The vehicle had no registration number.


In another case, a Whangārei mother has decided to drop and pick her 13-year-old daughter from school after a man tried to coax the girl into a car while she was waiting for the school bus on Monday.

The incident happened in Tikipunga on Monday morning, just days after a "suspicious-looking" car was seen driving along Lupton Ave that runs along Whangārei Girls' High School.

The Whangārei mother said a man made a U-turn while driving from Kamo to Tikipunga on Monday morning and pulled over at a bus stop her daughter was standing at.

"He asked 'how old are you? 'Do you have a boyfriend? 'Do you want one? She carried on saying no. He said 'I am only 24. Not much older than you.' Do you want a boyfriend?

She said the man, who her daughter described as medium, chubby built Māori and wore a hoody over hi-vis, offered to drop her to school which she refused.

He was driving a dirty grey Rav4 or Honda CRV type vehicle and had a brown mastiff-type dog in the back seat.

The man then drove to the other side of the road and said: "Are you sure? I'll drop you to school" before driving away, she said.

The student eventually hopped on the school bus and didn't tell her parents until after school. A report was then lodged with Whangārei police.


"She did all the right things, apart from not calling me or her dad. She's been brave, she did an amazing job. Something a whole lot worse could have happened,'' the mother said.

"It's not something I thought I have to ever worry about because I thought we live in a semi-safe subdivision. I've changed my whole work schedule so that I can drop her off and pick her up from school," she said.

The woman said luckily, a surveillance camera on a house adjacent to the bus shelter caught the man's creepy behaviour and the footage would be handed over to police.

Whangārei Girls' High School principal Anne Cooper said students noticed a car driving up and down Lupton Ave last week and police were called.

A man was spoken to by police after a suspicious-looking car was seen driving near Whangarei Girls' High School. Photo/John Stone
A man was spoken to by police after a suspicious-looking car was seen driving near Whangarei Girls' High School. Photo/John Stone

"The driver didn't really approach any student. The police were advised and they dealt with the situation. We use a school app to put an alert out when something like this happens.

"We wanted to make sure our students know not to engage in any conversation with people they don't know, that they don't give out phone numbers and to note something about the car like registration numbers," Cooper said.

This week, Kamo Intermediate School emailed parents a "Safety Message" about stranger danger after a vehicle was seen in Paramount Parade with a young driver attempting to entice students into a car.

No further details could be obtained from the school but police confirmed no report has been lodged.

Police making inquiries on Paramount Parade after a student was
Police making inquiries on Paramount Parade after a student was "yelled at" by a passing motorist. Photo/John Stone

Emily King-Hepi is a member of Otangarei Neighbourhood Safety Panel that works with police in tackling stranger danger.

A few weeks ago, she said a man tried to grab her 10-year-old niece in Tikipunga when she and her 8-year-old sister were on their way to school.

"My niece turned around, grabbed her younger sister and both ran down into the bushes, cut through a field and back home. They were so shaken, you could see the fear in their eyes.

"It's predatory behaviour and that's why our neighbourhood safety panel and police are getting the whole community to keep an eye out to make sure children are safe."

King-Hepi said five years ago, her 8-year-old daughter was riding her bike with another girl in Tikipunga when a man tried to grab her but she threw the bike at him and ran away.

Whangārei police are appealing for information on the incident involving the 13-year-old girl on Monday.

Acting Senior Sergeant Christian Stainton said a man had been spoken to after police were called to Lupton Ave but investigation was continuing.

"We don't think the two incident are linked and are currently following up on information and leads and we are also calling on the public to help by providing information that could help us."

Stranger danger tips
Talk to your children about avoiding conversation with strangers
If approached by strangers, either run or walk towards a public place and ask for help
Where possible, parents should pick and drop their children to school
Try to walk in groups and avoid isolated areas
Try to remember details such as registration numbers of suspicious-looking vehicles.