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Emergency Response Information

At Wā Ora Montessori School we take the safety of our students, staff and visitors very seriously. Our responsibilities include:

  • identifying and reducing potential risks,
  • preparing for and responding to emergencies, and
  • managing the recovery from crisis situations that affect our students, staff and the school environment.

Should an emergency or disaster situation arise at school while students and staff are on site, it is our first priority to keep our community safe until they can be released safely.

Preparation for emergencies

Our planning, procedures and practice drills for emergency events ensure we can keep your child safe in the event of a real emergency situation.

We routinely practice evacuation, earthquake and lockdown drills at Wā Ora, as per the Ministry of Education recommendations, to ensure that our school community is both aware of emergency procedures and knows how to respond quickly and effectively to them.

Lockdown practice communications

Communication to Wā Ora whānau and students is an important part of our lockdown practices/drills. We will give advance notice of these drills via the newsletter, email and the app. This gives the opportunity for parents to have their own conversations with their primary and high school children about what events could cause a lockdown and why. Primary and high school teachers will also have discussions with their classes prior to a lockdown drill so they are prepared and aware of what to do.  Our recommendation for parents of preschoolers however, is not to introduce this topic, unless they raise it themselves. This is because developmentally, preschool children don’t have the ability to understand the reasons behind lockdown practices. Routines are lowkey and regularly practised thereby becoming familiar to the children, and they follow a predictable pattern to keep the children calm and settled throughout.

We will also communicate during and immediately after the drill via the app and email. We do appreciate your patience in receiving our messages as a part of our practice.

Civil defence emergencies

Civil defence situations include natural disasters (i.e. earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, landslides and severe weather events) and hostile attacks.

When the local area is placed into a state of emergency, a siren/horn will sound on your mobile phone to alert you to this. If this happens during school hours, Wā Ora will operate from this point on under the guidance of the Civil Defence and Emergency Services and we will follow our internal procedures to best manage the safety of our students and staff who are on site at the time. If school is deemed to be the safest place, all students will be kept here until they are either collected or it is safe to release them, as directed by Civil Defence and/or the NZ Police.

In the event of a serious earthquake affecting the region’s/school’s ability to operate normally, there may be a significant delay before the ‘all clear’ is given or it may not even be given at all; this will be dependent on the extent and amount of damage in the greater Wellington community.

Wā Ora maintains adequate, but basic supplies to cope in an emergency event and can cater to the needs of those stranded at school in the short term (approximately 3-days) for food and water (meeting most dietary requirements), shelter and first aid care. In the event that children are still left at school by this time, the solution would be to relocate to the Community Emergency Hub at Rata Street School. All hubs are equipped with the resources to enable community members to come together and provide support to each other in the case of an emergency. To find out more about our local CEH at Rata Street School, the Naenae Community Emergency Hub Guide can be found here.

Wā Ora-only emergencies (includes Lockdown)

Wā Ora-only emergencies could include fire, chemical spill, serious injury or death, suspicious package, violent intruder, trespasser, bomb threat and gas leak. Student and staff safety will be paramount in any of these situations occurring at school and staff will follow the relevant procedure to minimise the impact of a situation.


A lockdown is an emergency protocol in response to a threat to the school directly, or in the surrounding community/neighbourhood.

In a lockdown situation, all those on site are moved indoors and kept away from windows; exterior doors are locked. No one (including students, staff and parents) is allowed to enter or exit the school sites while a lockdown is in place.

The key difference between a lockdown and any other type of emergency (either civil defence or school-only) is that STUDENTS WILL NOT BE RELEASED BEFORE THE ‘ALL CLEAR’ HAS BEEN GIVEN BY THE POLICE. Once the lockdown has ended, the same guidelines as for release of students in a civil defence or Wā Ora-only emergency) would apply (see further down).

School closure

We try not to close the school at any stage during the school year, but will do so if there is a risk to student and staff health and safety, either within the school or with getting to and from school. Where possible, we will notify caregivers prior to the beginning of the school day.

Closure is generally due to extreme weather or if the school environment is dangerous to students or we have no essential services for an extended length of time.

Student collection and release

While Wā Ora has robust procedures and plans in place to guide its actions around releasing students in emergency situations, it is necessary to be mindful that there are many potential variations on the outcomes and/or damage that may occur in a disaster situation, making it impossible to have a fixed plan in place to implement for all occasions; as such, a degree of flexibility is required in handling these situations to ensure that student safety is prioritised first and foremost.

While students remain at school, normal teacher:student ratios will apply and teachers will only be released gradually, as students are collected and numbers reduce.

Civil defence situations

Preschool children must be collected from their class by either their primary caregiver or someone nominated as an emergency contact.

Prior to the ‘all clear’ being given by either Civil Defence and/or NZ Police, primary children may be collected from their class by either a primary or emergency caregiver. Alternatively, the primary caregiver may give a one-off authorisation to the school for either a different adult to collect or for the release of their child during daylight hours.

In the high school, students 14-years-old and over will be released, while students under 14-years-old will only be released during daylight hours if their primary caregiver contacts the school and authorises this. Students may also stay at the high school until collected by a caregiver.

Younger siblings under the age of 14-years in the primary and high school can leave school in the care of their older sibling as long as the older sibling is 14-years or older. Younger siblings in preschool may only be released to either their primary caregiver or a nominated emergency contact.

Lock down situations

In the event of a lockdown, no child will be released until we have been given the ‘all clear’ by the NZ Police.

If the ‘all clear’ is given before 3 pm, then day-to-day school routines will resume until the end of day when normal student pick up/release arrangements would apply. If, however, caregivers wish to pick up their children from class before the end of the school day, after the ‘all clear’, they are able to; children will need to be signed out at the office in the usual way.

If the ‘all clear’ is given after 3.30pm, preschool children must be collected from their class by either a primary or emergency caregiver. Primary children may be collected from their class by either a primary or emergency caregiver. Alternatively, the primary caregiver may give a one-off authorisation to the school for either a different adult to collect or for the release of their child(ren) during daylight hours. In the high school, students 14-years-old and over will be released, while students under 14-years-old will only be released during daylight hours if their primary caregiver contacts the school and authorises their release. Students may also stay at the high school until collected by a caregiver.

Wā Ora-only emergencies

In any Wā Ora-only situation which either compromises the ability of the school to operate in the normal way or is deemed unsafe by NZ Police/school Principal (occurring part-way through a school day), the school will be closed and students will be released.

Preschool children must be collected by either a primary or emergency caregiver.

In the area school, students will be released at the time of closure but may elect to stay at school until collected by a caregiver.

Communication to whānau

Wā Ora staff will communicate regularly with whānau during any emergency event/school closure in regard to the release and collection of students.

To do this successfully, we need your help in providing up-to-date contact details for you and your nominated emergency caregivers. Without your correct information, we will be unable to send notifications and updates. Please check and update your details and those of the nominated emergency caregivers with the school by any of the following methods:

  • Email office@waora.school.nz
  • Complete the ‘Change of Details Form’ in the school app (Forms button on the front page of the app)
  • Call 04 567 2377
  • Text 029 770 4286

In the event of an emergency or school closure, notifications and updates to whānau will be via one or more of the following methods:

  • Alert message to mobile phone via the School App
  • Email
  • Facebook

Get yourself connected to our communication app and encourage your nominated emergency caregivers to download it also.  They don’t need to sign up to any alert groups to receive emergency notifications–this will minimise receiving unnecessary school communications.

To download the app, go to the App store (iPhone) or Google Play store (android phones). Once you have downloaded the app, search for Wā Ora Montessori School. Remember to sign up for the alert groups you would like to get notifications for, e.g. your child(ren)’s class(es), sports and activity groups. Make sure to enable notifications on your smartphone to keep up to date with push notifications that will then show on your lock screen.


School and whānau must work together to keep everyone safe in an emergency situation. It is the responsibility of parents/primary caregivers to provide up-to-date contact details for themselves and their nominated emergency caregivers to the school at all times and to follow any instructions that are communicated by the school in a real-life situation. It is a practical choice to ensure at least one of your nominated emergency caregivers is local and could collect your child in an emergency.

Please have a conversation with your primary and high school children about the need for them to follow the directions of any school staff in times of emergencies and not to leave school grounds until permitted by teachers to do so.

Families should also have formed their own plans about how they will manage emergency situations, covering all likely scenarios including everyone being at home and everyone being out (at work and school, etc.). https://getready.govt.nz/prepared/household/ provides useful information for families in planning their response in an emergency, including a questionnaire to complete (either online and as a pdf) that can form the basis of a successful emergency plan.

Your cooperation assists us in successfully managing situations that involve the safety of the more than 400 people who make up our school community on any given day.  We appreciate your understanding around these school processes and know that you support our preparing for these eventualities before they occur, rather than as they are unfolding.

For your convenience, this emergency information is also available via a link on the school app (‘Links’ menu option) or as a hard copy from the school office.