23 Feb 2024

Taupō police searching for armed man after knife fight sees schools locked down

10:10 am on 23 February 2024
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Police officers will be out and about in Taupō on Friday. File photo. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

A police call-out that saw five schools and a kindergarten locked down was sparked by a knife fight between a man and woman.

The schools were locked down for more than three hours following the incident, in the Taupō suburb of Hilltop on Thursday afternoon.

Taupō area commander Phil Edwards said police were called to the area after receiving reports of "an altercation between a man and a woman who were both armed with knives".

No one was injured, Edwards said.

The man fled, but police located and seized his vehicle and a gun shortly after the initial call-out.

Edwards said the man was believed to be armed with another gun.

"This man knows who he is, and so do we.

"Come forward sooner rather than later, there is no need to make it harder than it needs to be."

Police's message to the man was "if you refuse to come to us, we will find you", he said.

The cordon was shrunk about 5pm on Thursday following a search by the police Armed Offenders Squad and dog team.

Officers would be out in force in the area on Friday, conducting reassurance patrols, door-knocking and executing search warrants in their search for the man, Edwards said.

They would also be questioning associates, friends and family of the wanted man.

"We are taking this seriously and realise how unsettling this has been particularly for the younger members of our community whose schools went into lockdown."

It was safe for students to go to school on Friday, he said.

"We will also be visiting schools to provide reassurance and thank those children for their bravery and listening to instructions when it was important."

The official police callouts database showed the Thursday incident was initially logged as 'firearms offending', on Kōtare Street, and officers attended at 1.40pm.

Anyone with information about the wanted man was asked to contact police on 111, referencing the event number P057866209.