Six cattle on the run were eventually herded through a Whangārei School and contained by police before they were escorted off the premises by animal control yesterday.Students looked on as teachers and police officers managed to muster the steers and one heifer between the school buildings and on to a lower field at Hora Hora School.
It was pitch black when school caretaker Simon Mahon turned up for work but one of the teachers had mentioned some cattle wandering on the sports field adjoining the school.
"I went out and checked but they must have hidden. I went back a second time and saw police officers chasing them around the rugby pitch," Mahon said.
More police were called in and the teachers were organised into a human fence, with the cattle being moved through the school sports courts in an orderly fashion.
"Mr Plod escorted them through the buildings and onto an area on the lower fields that is being developed into an eco-park," Mahon said.
In his 30 years working at the school Mahon said he had never had to deal with a stock invasion.
The first two officers on scene were unable to muster the stock and called in reinforcements which included Constable Craig Curnow.
Curnow, by his own admission, was born a townie but was developing into a farmer thanks to his wife, managed to settle the stock and co-ordinated a plan to utilise all the human resources available to gently encourage the stock to a safer location.
And just like the police catch-cry "safer communities together" the police and teachers combined forces and successfully manoeuvred the stock to a holding position before Whangārei District Council animal control were called.
"We worked together and got them where we wanted them," Curnow said.
However before the stock could be moved they made the most of their new pastures by eating a few vegetables from the school's raised vegetable gardens.
Principal Pat Newman said after the morning's effort he was considering charging the Ministry of Education for his cowboy skills.
Having taught in a number of rural schools Newman was familiar with bovine animals.
"They were a bit stirred up and agitated at first but the second lot of police let them settle down and moved them easily," Newman said
"The kids thought it was hilarious."
The officers spent five minutes after their wrangling job was complete, mixing with the students and getting high-fives.
When Animal Management Officers arrived the stock were then moved to the lower corner of the school grounds at the end of Te Mai Rd.
The officers pushed the stock down the walkway from Te Mai Rd to a block of land owned by the Northland District Health Board situated between Raumanga Valley Rd and the rear of the Hospital where the stock had been grazing.
There were another five cattle secured on site. The cattle owners will be contacted.