A prank phone call saying somebody had been shot at a Taupō college sent the school and others nearby into lockdown as armed police rushed to the site.
Police are now speaking to the person who made the initial call.
While Tauhara College acting principal Phil McCreery said he could not comment on reports that a student was seen leaving with police, parents waiting outside the school said a boy in school uniform was taken away in a police car.
The drama began some time after midday when someone called 111 saying a person had been shot and was badly injured.
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McCreery said the school received a call from police and initiated its lockdown procedure. All the students were told to stay in class or go into the nearest classroom, classroom doors and the doors to school blocks were locked, curtains pulled and students told to stay away from the windows.
Other nearby schools, including Taupō Intermediate, Tauhara Primary and a nearby kohanga reo were also in lockdown.
Mother Charlene Boucher, who arrived at the school to pick up her daughter for an appointment at the same time as the lockdown began, said she pulled up to find teachers outside shouting "get inside" to the students, who were all headed indoors.
"I phoned 111 and they said they couldn't tell me but there was an incident. That's the last thing a mother wants to hear," she said.
Police gave the all clear at about 1.25pm and the students were all taken to the school hall for a short debrief assembly, where they were told reports of a shooter were false and reassured that it was safe.
McCreery said the school lockdown procedure had worked well and praised the police response.
"The police were brilliant. They came and did a complete walk through the school to make sure it was clear.
"The kids were all good. Obviously these things are a little bit stressful, especially for our year nines."
A group of year nine students outside school said they were in class when the bell went. They were initially told it was a fire drill but were then sent back into class where they could see police in black uniforms with guns outside the window.
"Everyone went quiet and hid under our desks," said one girl. "Everyone was terrified. Girls were crying, guys were crying."
After the incident, police issued a statement saying they took reports of this nature extremely seriously, and that this type of behaviour caused significant public alarm.