Taupō police have issued a message to a man who “remains at large” after an “incident” earlier today left multiple schools in lockdown for hours.

Cordons remain in place at both ends of Arthur Crescent and Invergarry Road in Hilltop, as authorities remain tight-lipped about the circumstances behind the incident.

People in the local area have been urged to call 111 if they “see anything of concern”.

Taupō Area Commander Inspector Phil Edwards issued a late-night media release, with a message directed at the man who “remains at large” from police.

“You know who you are, your family knows who you are, and we know who you are so let’s get this squared away,” he said just before 10pm.

“It’s time to front up as this isn’t going away, so it’s best you come and see us at the Taupō police station sooner rather than later.”

He said there was no wider risk to the community and schools would reopen as usual tomorrow.

Edwards said: “We know this has been incredibly unsettling for some people, and I want to thank the community, the schools and the whānau who have been affected by this.

“The community is going to see police out and about and we’ll be visiting schools to provide that reassurance and thank the kids for being brave and listening to instructions during what was a pretty unsettling time for them.”

The police commander said officers would be making enquiries with” associates, friends and family of the man in the effort to locate him.

“That means the community is going to see us out and about as we carry out those reassurance patrols, knock on doors and execute search warrants.”

Earlier this afternoon, people were urged to avoid the Hilltop area as armed police swarmed several streets.

Schools were placed under lockdown just before the end of the school day as a precaution.

Officers were able to lift the lockdown at five schools and a kindergarten by about 5pm.

One resident at a cordon on Kiddle Dr told 1News earlier today that their neighbourhood was “crawling with armed police”.

“It’s very eerie here at the moment,” they said.

During the incident, Health New Zealand Lakes District confirmed Taupō Hospital was not in lockdown and said “our patients and staff are safe”.

“However, the hospital is within the cordons as police are dealing with an incident in the area. If anyone is needing to go to the hospital,

“Police are allowing people through. As this is a police matter, no further comment will be made as this is an ongoing incident,” it said in a post on social media.

Earlier today, four schools posted messages to social media, informing parents and caregivers about the lockdowns and asking that their children not be picked up.

“The police have asked the school be put into lockdown because of an incident in the area,” Taupō Intermediate School noted.

“We will continue to provide updates on our Facebook as often as possible.

“Please do not come to the school or phone the school as you will not be attended to and this may cause disruption to the management of this incident and could potentially place yourselves and/or our staff and student’s safety at risk,” it said.

“Do not be alarmed, we are all safe. We are under police guidance and ask parents not to come to school until we are given the all clear,” a post on Lake Taupō Christian School’s Facebook said.

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