Leanne Apiti at Kawhia Primary School

Leanne Apiti knows the Kawhia community like the back of her hand and as principal of the small seaside town’s primary school since 2009, she and her staff have taught generations of local children and formed strong relationships with their families.

Kawhia Primary School is a precious resource for this community on the Waikato’s west coast of New Zealand. It is a place for learning, and for passing on local knowledge, histories, traditions, and language. The original school block was built in 1922 and is now used as a classroom. Today, the school has an office block, 2 classrooms, a Māori medium class, and an Early Childhood Centre filling the grounds, alongside a generous field complete with sunflowers and an impressive potato patch.

In 2020 Apiti jumped at the opportunity to upgrade the school’s security system when some Ministry of Education funding became available. Frustrations with the legacy alarm system came to a head after repeated alarm faults, service fees, and false guard callouts racked up huge bills for the school.

“We were having real problems with our security system, getting charged a lot,” Apiti says. “If there was a power cut, we had to replace the battery and pay for someone to come and fix it. We knew the system was getting old and we didn’t want to upgrade it because it was going to create more of a headache.”

If a community group wanted to use the school grounds Leanne had to come down to the school herself and unlock it for them, or hand over the keys. An email from Gallagher security about its new cloud-based security system, Gallagher SMB*, arrived at the perfect time.

“I didn’t have to go far to find a solution. Gallagher is local and understands our community,” says Apiti.

The app-based system means that Apiti can now control Kawhia School’s security from anywhere, at any time. Using her smartphone, she can arm and disarm the security system, manage alarms, and add or remove users.

“The teachers love it,” she says. “I wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to use the school. I liked the option that you can choose to add people and grant them access to the security system and then you can take them off whenever you want to.”

This approach means no more retrieving keys from past staff members, and if a community group or adult learning class need to use the school, Apiti can grant temporary door access via the Gallagher SMB app.

“I can give it to anyone because I can actually see who has accessed the school from home,” she explains.

Apiti also loves how flexible the solution is.

“We have a builder doing some work on just one of our buildings, so I have given him access to that area only. I can see when he’s locked the door at the end of the day without having to come down and physically check,” she says. “I’m a person who uses my mobile all the time, so the Gallagher security solution just made sense to me. I wanted a system I could control from home if I needed to.”

Cloud-based technology means the security system will always perform at its best with regular software updates, including new features and security updates.

* Gallagher SMB is currently only available in NZ.

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