Four houses were evacuated after the New Zealand Defence Force bomb squad was called to a residential property in Te Puke to recover a high-explosive shell.

The 1m-long unexploded naval shell was found by contractors yesterday who were working at the address on Dunlop Rd.

A police spokeswoman said the contractors immediately contacted police and from there, the NZ Defence Force bomb squad travelled from Auckland to determine what needed to be done.

"In the meantime four houses were evacuated."

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The shell has been taken away for destruction by the bomb squad.