Governor-General caught in security scare

Security threat prompts building evacuation but won't derail Governor-General's function, University of Canterbury says.

A Christchurch function involving Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae will go ahead despite a security threat, University of Canterbury says.

Hundreds of people were evacuated this afternoon from the 11-storey James Hight building, the university's library and administration tower and the tallest building on campus.

That follows what police are calling an "unspecified security threat" on the university.

Neither police nor the university would confirm if the threat was made against Sir Jerry's function this evening - to award the Royal New Zealand RSA’s Anzac of the Year Award 2012 to the student volunteer army, which mobilised thousands of people in the post-quake clean-up.

However, a university source says the threat was against the library.

University corporate affairs manager John MacDonald told NBR ONLINE the function, to take place in the building's ground floor, will take place as planned.

"Yep, that's going ahead."

The Governor-General travels with his own security - members of the diplomatic protection service - and police say they will maintain a "low-key presence" at the university tafter a search of the area.

Student Volunteer Army leader Sam Johnson also says the event will go ahead.

"It's really not my place to comment, sorry.

"It may have moved by now - I would have no idea. I plan to go there and find out."

It is the first time the RSA's award has been given to non-military personnel or to more than one person.

Mr Johnson says it is remarkable to have an award recognising the whole student army, adding: "It's great to have a wee union."

In a statement, Canterbury District Commander Superintendent Gary Knowles says it is not known if the security threat is genuine but police are taking appropriate precautions.