About 150 tamariki and kaiako (teachers) from an East Coast kura fled for the hills today when an earthquake triggered the school's tsunami evacuation plan.
Students and teachers from Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Kawakawa Mai Tawhiti in Hicks Bay near the wharf walked or were put in vans and headed for a nearby motel for safety when the 6.5-magnitude quake rattled the North Island region.
The quake was centred 155km east of Te Araroa and was 31km deep.
The tumuaki (principal) Campbell Dewes said the tremor at 11.33am rolled on a bit longer than usual and was strong enough for people to need to get out of the building.
Mr Dewes said the rule of thumb from Civil Defence was that if a quake lasted for half a minute or more, the school should consider an evacuation and move to higher ground in case of the threat of a tsunami.
He said he took the pupils to the Hicks Bay Motel where he knew there would be food and through local knowledge knew of some springs in the area.