Police have been called to more than 400 incidents at education facilities in Northland in the past 18 months, many of which involve violence.
That’s according to information released to 1 NEWS which shows the scale and severity of some of the criminal offending schools are grappling with.
Of the 400 incidents, 129 different locations are identified, ranging from pre-schools to tertiary facilities.
There were 63 assaults, 17 threats - which included those of killing or harm, 13 incidents involving cannabis, 10 threats of or attempts at suicide, and 10 incidents involving weapons.
Te Tai Tokerau Principals' Association president Pat Newman said the incidents weren’t just from children, but adults too.
“We've had threats from parents. We've had threats from kids to kids. We've had to take a knife off a child here,” the Hora Hora Primary School principal said.
He said principals, including himself, rarely called police. Newman didn’t for that particular incident with the knife.
As a result, the figures were probably “very low” compared to reality, he said.
“It's pointless trying to ring them ‘cause you can't get through. If you’re in a school at the back of the wop wops in Northland, it takes the police two or three hours to get there.”
Police told 1 NEWS a lot of their callouts to schools relate to offences involving dishonesty, which include theft, burglary, or robbery. They say the offending mostly happens outside of school hours.
Police said they prioritise callouts to schools, but added that schools had their own processes for dealing with incidents.
Those working in the social sector say the increase in incidents may be a symptom of a build-up of stress in homes.
“It's an expression of the violence that goes on at every level in the community all the time, which is what we often talk about living in poverty,” Te Rūnanga Nui o Te Aupōuri CEO Mariameno Kapa-Kingi said.