Parents faced an anxious wait to see their children after two west Auckland primary schools were locked down at the request of police.
Blockhouse Bay Primary and Henderson Valley School took the precaution while police officers searched for a man who they believed to be armed on Monday afternoon.
Blockhouse Bay Primary pupils were kept inside the school until 5pm, when they were reunited with their parents.
The police armed offenders squad, dog unit and the Eagle helicopter searched the area.
Henderson police inspector Rod Fraser says the man officers were searching for did not go into the school but they believed he was nearby.
Blockhouse Bay Primary School principal Neil Robinson says the lockdown was a challenge for everyone involved.
"The man never stepped foot on school property which is damn lucky really. It would have been a whole different ball game."
Mr Robinson says the school had practised what to do in such an emergency and pupils were kept wherever they were in the school when the call came through.
Around 150 parents who were arriving to pick up their children from school were also kept in the administration block.
Most students were in their classrooms or the school hall, watching DVDs or singing songs.
"It was hard work for the teachers keeping them occupied for an extra two hours," Mr Robinson says.
"We have good communications systems in place and were able to account for everyone through those systems.
"The only time there were tears was when they were reunited with their parents and that was more from the parents' side."
From 3pm a group of about 300 parents began waiting for their children behind a cordon on school grounds.
Natasha Warrington was waiting for her eight-year-old daughter Pearl from around 3.20pm.
"I started to get freaked out a bit. You just want to grab your child and run."
Megan Cusack says her 11-year-old daughter wasn't too upset about the incident when she got home.
"Once it was all explained to her she felt a bit better," she says.
From around 1pm on Monday, Henderson Valley School was also locked down at the request of police.
Principal Maree Stavert says students were not upset by it.
"They were absolutely fine. It happened just before lunch so they ate inside."
Henderson Valley Rd was closed as a precaution and reopened at 3pm and pupils were allowed to go home.
Police located a man they were searching for in Henderson at around 5pm. He was not armed at the time.
A 46-year-old man appeared in the Waitakere District Court on Tuesday charged with trespass and unlawful possession of a firearm. A police spokesperson says he was remanded on bail to reappear in court on June 22.
- Western Leader
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