Police seize substance in powder scare
Life in Otaki has returned to normal after the town was on alert over a white-powder scare on Friday but police are still investigating the ‘‘illegal substance’’.
For a few hours the Main Street was a hive of activity, as police, defence force and emergency services staff took over to safeguard people and identify the powder, which was later declared ‘‘non-lethal’’.
The drama started just after 9am when Travelsmart travel agency owners Ann and Arthur Marychurch opened a package delivered to their Otaki business and found white powder inside.
Moments later, two friends, Natalie Allen and Jill Hudson, walked through the door.
By 11.30am, all four were seated at a park bench across the road from the Main St office, waiting to find out what, if any, decontamination process they would need to go through.
Nobody was allowed to go closer than a few metres to the four people at the bench.
‘‘We received a package,’’ Arthur Marychurch said. ‘‘We opened it, found a mysterious white powder, then called the police.’’
The envelope was delivered by normal courier.
Arthur Marychurch said the powder had not poured out of the courier package it was sent in, but had been hidden in another package inside.
Ann Marychurch said they had received a container of promotional sweets from Air New Zealand just the day before.
When the courier dropped off the package containing the powder on Friday, she had assumed it was more of the same and said ‘‘oh, more chocolates’’.
Their friends had left the office and had to be tracked down and asked to return and await the outcome of the tests by emergency services.
Police have confirmed that the white powder was an illegal substance, and are investigating where the package came from and where it was going, Sergeant Slade Sturmey, Otaki Police said.
Otaki Police received a phone call from the Otaki Travel Centre at about 9am and they stated that a package had arrived and that it contained a white substance in a plastic bag.
Allen was able to joke about her part in the incident.
‘‘I’ve already had a shower today.
‘‘And I just had my hair done this morning.’’
White powder in an envelope was delivered to a travel agent.