Palmerston North schools in lockdown

Caleb Kovaleski (NZ Police / supplied)
Caleb Kovaleski (NZ Police / supplied)

The gunman at the centre of a school lockdown in Palmerston North has been identified by police as Caleb Kovaleski.

The man's adoptive father, Jim Antcliff, told the New Zealand Herald he called Kovaleski while the situation was unfolding earlier this afternoon, and was told that his son was surrounded by police.

Mr Antcliff told the paper that Kovaleski did "not necessarily [have] a good start to life" and had probably acted out due to issues with his girlfriend.

The manhunt for 25-year-old Kovaleski is continuing and police say he should not be approached.

Palmerston North schools in lockdown

A number of residents in the Cloverlea area have been unable to get home due to cordons in place.

Earlier in the day two Palmerston North schools were locked down as officers hunted for the armed man.

Pupils at Cloverlea School and Cloverlea Kindergarten were told it was the bad weather keeping them inside rather than a massive police operation to find a fugitive on the loose.

Palmerston North schools in lockdown

Police set up cordons and road blocks in the suburb of Cloverlea after the driver, believed to be armed, refused to stop for police on Thursday and fled in a stolen silver car, identified as either a Ford Telstar or a Mazda 626 hatchback with a sunroof.

The kindergarten had been keeping parents updated on Facebook, telling concerned mums and dads they were feeding the children toast while teachers keep them calm.

Palmerston North schools in lockdown

The school and kindergarten will be closed tomorrow and police cordons remain in the area, with road blocks in place as the armed offenders squad continue their hunt for Kovaleski.

Police said the children had been taken to the Highbury Whanau Centre in a bus and parents could collect them from there.

Newshub.