Auckland Museum, MOTAT, Waitangi Treaty Grounds' museums evacuated after receiving threatening emails

Three major New Zealand museums have been forced to temporarily close on Wednesday after receiving threatening emails.  

Auckland Museum was evacuated shortly after 10:30am due to a bomb threat, before reopening at around 11:20pm. 

Auckland Museum confirmed to Newshub it evacuated on Wednesday morning due to a bomb threat.  

"We passed this information to NZ Police who indicated that this was a hoax, similar to those received by a number of schools and organisations late last year," a spokesperson for Auckland Museum said.

"They advised us that we could safely return to business as usual, so we have now reopened the building and returned to full operation."

Auckland Museum, MOTAT, Waitangi Treaty Grounds' museums evacuated after receiving threatening emails
Photo credit: Newshub

RNZ reported Auckland's transport museum MOTAT was also evacuated and checked by police on Wednesday morning after receiving a threatening email.   

A Museum of Transport and Technology spokesperson said they immediately evacuated after receiving the threat and understood several institutions received similar emails.  

Further north, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds' museums in Northland were evacuated after a bomb threat was received, with police searching the premises.  

Waitangi Treaty Grounds chief executive Ben Dalton said the threat was received via email, with a senior staff member opening it at around 9:35am. The staff member then contacted Dalton, who phoned the police.   

All museums on the grounds - the Te Rau Aroha Museum of the Price of Citizenship and Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi - were evacuated, with about 23 to 30 people inside at the time, according to Dalton.   

"A chain email went out to museums across the country and a number of hotels, saying there were hidden bombs and they were due to go off in the next few hours," Dalton told the New Zealand Herald. 

"Given that there's always the potential for people's safety, we followed the advice of police. We had police go through the museums with us, then the police cleared us to reopen." 

Dalton confirmed the cafe never closed despite social media reports and by 11am, the grounds were reopened and it was "business as usual".   

When Newshub contacted police about the threats, a spokesperson cited a statement titled "Emails of Concern" released on December 18.   

In the statement, police said it would no longer be providing information on non-specific mass email threats where there is no apparent risk to public safety.  

"Threatening emails have caused significant and unnecessary concern to public services over the last month," the statement read.   

"In some recent cases, services have been disrupted due to needless evacuations."  

The statement confirmed police would continue to take all reported threats seriously and would release information when necessary for public safety.