A shot was reportedly fired, cars crashed into each other and a window smashed with a metal bar in what a witness claims was a petrifying clash involving gang members in Mangakakahi on Monday. Some education leaders and parents say they should have been told about armed police dealing with a gang clash nearby in Rotorua. Cira Olivier finds out more.
At least six daycares and three primary schools were not told what was going on or whether children were safe as armed police guarded cordons during the incident on Monday.
And at one of the schools, a staff member waited on the phone for 20 minutes after calling police to find out if it was safe to release students, the principal says.
A shot was reportedly fired, cars crashed into each other and a window smashed with a metal bar in what a witness claims was a petrifying clash involving gang members in Mangakakahi on Monday.
Armed police guarded cordons off Edmund Rd at the intersections of Roger St and Joanne Cr and the Armed Offenders Squad entered the house where the front window had been smashed. Cordons and armed police stayed in place until 1.45pm.
In response, police say contacting schools may have created unnecessary panic because the gangs were separated and a person was in custody.
Concerned parent Jess Pussell said schools should have been told what was going on.
Pussell has two children at Mountain View Preschool on the intersection of Edmund and Clayton Rds.
Mountain View had not been contacted about the incident.
Pussell noticed the cordons as she drove past Edmund Rd after dropping off her children.
She was shocked schools had not been told. "If not a lockdown, a courtesy call should've been given."
She said the situation was handled well by police but schools and parents should not have to find out that something significant was happening in their area through social media.
Pussell said the incident had frightened her four-year-old son.
Parents on social media echoed these concerns, stating there needed to be better communication.
Aorangi School, on Gem St, was near the cordons and strong police presence on Roger St. Principal Debra Harrod said police should have told them what was happening.
"I would think it's their responsibility ... someone could have rung and said, this is what's going on, then it could be a school decision about what we do with that information."
She said it looked serious and she decided to put the school into an informal lockdown.
"We received no communication whatsoever," she said.
She said more than six concerned parents called the school and an alert was sent to parents using the school app to let them know their children were safe.
The biggest concerns had been for children who lived on or walked along Roger St, Harrod said.
The school's secretary struggled to get in touch with police and spent 20 minutes on the phone to ask if pupils could safely be sent home, she said.
''Better communication" was needed, said Harrod.
Te Kohanga Reo ki Aorangi staff member Teria Kiel-Verco said schools, daycares, kohanga and work places needed to be told why there was such a presence.
"Schools and kohanga should have been told regardless, even if they were to say that the issue had been dealt with ... it would be up to them if the option to stay open is available," she said.
Kids.Com.Educare Mangakakahi and Mountain View Preschool regional manager Jody Irwin told staff to be on high alert and encourage children to play inside.
She said police had not asked the daycare to go into lockdown.
Irwin learnt about the incident from an alert from her daughter's school, St Michael's Catholic Primary School, which is also in the area.
But, "at no time did we feel at risk", she added.
Rotorua police area commander Inspector Brendon Keenan told the Rotorua Daily Post there was no reason to contact nearby schools or order lockdowns because the gangs had been separated and a man was in custody.
There are at least six daycares and three primary schools in the area where the incident happened.
Keenan said the length of time the cordons, dogs and armed police stayed at the scene might have made people think it was more serious.
"It may be more evidence was collected or searches taking place."
He said contacting the schools may have caused panic.
"If there was an actual risk, they would certainly be advised."
Western Heights Primary School went into a voluntary lockdown.
Griffin said there were three aspects to the school lockdown policy: Police contacting the schools, fears for health and safety, and a person who entered the premises who may cause harm.
"I feel 100 per cent confident that if the police thought we needed to go to lockdown they would have called."
Griffin asked police near the scene if there were risks or dangers and was told any lockdown could be lifted and the school then felt it was safe to do so, he said.
One person was arrested and has appeared in Rotorua District Court.