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Multiple schools in West Auckland were put into lockdown with kids forced to hide under desks on Tuesday morning as police responded to a “verbal threat” received by a college.

Rutherford College received an anonymous phone call before 11.30am, which warned that an armed individual would be on school grounds imminently.

The college and a neighbouring childcare facility were advised to go into lockdown while the police conducted further investigations.

Police are stationed outside the college, and parents have been asked to wait outside and have not been allowed inside.

Three primary schools have also been placed into lockdown: Matipo Primary, Rutherford Primary, and Te Atatu Intermediate.

A Rutherford College student inside the locked-down school expressed their fear to the NZ Herald.

“This is a very scary experience for me and my classmates. This is our first time,” they said.

“The only thing that we have been told is that we have to be in lockdown and stay quiet.

“The teachers are super strict of students to stay under the desk.

“They are doing a really good job of keeping everything under control.”

Another Rutherford College student said, “We were told to go under our desks.”

“People were rushing into classes, it was really scary,’ they added. People were messaging their parents. We had very little information about what was going on.”

One parent who was waiting outside the school expressed their anxiety, “You hear about these things happening in the States, not here. I just am very anxious. There was a threat of someone coming down and shooting. A threatening phone call.”

The Ministry of Education has stated that it will continue to work with the police and support the schools and early learning services as the situation unfolds.

Alfriston College in Manurewa was also placed in lockdown on the same day for about 30 minutes due to a report of a person with a gun in the wider Randwick Park area, but it was not substantiated.

A message on Rutherford College’s website confirmed that it is still in lockdown “due to an incident” and that a kohanga reo — an early childhood education and care centre where all education and instruction is delivered in te reo maori (Maori language) — at the school site is also in lockdown.

The college has stated that it will continue to provide updates on its website as often as possible and has asked people not to come to the school or phone the school as they will not be attended to, and it may cause disruption to the management of the incident and could potentially place themselves or the staff and students’ safety at risk.

The police response was sparked after the school received a “verbal threat”.

Police were in the area to provide reassurance to the staff at both sites. The lockdown was put in place as a precaution to keep the students and staff safe.

It has since been confirmed all students are safe and accounted for.

Te Atatu Intermediate School also went into lockdown as a precaution because of an “event happening within the community”.

They requested that parents refrain from contacting any staff because they are busy caring for students.

Further updates will be provided on the school website.

Several early childhood education centres to go into lockdown, included BestStart Te Atatū, BestStart Te Atatū Rd, Fetufa Tokelau Akoga Kamata Early Childhood Centre, Go Bananas Childcare, Rutherford Preschool, Te Atatū Peninsula Kindergarten, Te Atatū Village Kindergarten, and Kōhanga Reo o Te Kōtuku.

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By Rahul

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