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Earthquake education roadshow sets off for another year

Students learn about natural hazards at a previous East Coast LAB roadshowĀkonga/students in Tairāwhiti will be the first to see this year’s East Coast Life at the Boundary (LAB)(external link) Subduction Zone Secrets Roadshow, funded by the Earthquake Commission – EQC. 

This will be the second year ākonga, aged 10-14, have been taken on an exploration of our tectonic plate boundary and its hazards through the roadshow. 

Aotearoa New Zealand straddles two tectonic plates and where they meet offshore the East Coast of Te Ika-a-Māui/North Island is called the Hikurangi Subduction Zone. This is the area where the Pacific plate dives down westward beneath the Australian plate and is Aotearoa New Zealand’s largest and most active fault. 

Subduction zones cause the largest earthquakes and tsunami in the world, and East Coast communities sit right on the front line. 

“This knowledge is so important for ākonga and their whānau,” says Georgia McCombe, Project Leader for East Coast LAB.

“A tsunami generated by an earthquake from the Hikurangi Subduction Zone could arrive in as little as 15 minutes, so understanding their hazard and what to do builds the resilience of the whole school community.” 

Last year, the roadshow reached almost 800 ākonga across the Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay and Wellington regions. 

“I’m excited to bring this knowledge to a fresh group of students,” says Jacque Wilton, National Aquarium of New Zealand Educator, who will be delivering the roadshow for East Coast LAB. 

“The roadshow covers everything from layers of the earth and how tectonic plate movement formed Aotearoa New Zealand, to how earthquakes and tsunamis are generated, how they’re studied, and how we can prepare. 

“Educating them on the science helps students to be interested and prepared, rather than afraid,” Jacque says. 

“EQC understands how important it is that our children grow up with an understanding of Aotearoa New Zealand’s natural hazards – particularly those that can have such a potentially large impact, like the Hikurangi Subduction Zone,” says Hamish Armstrong, EQC’s Public Education Manager.  

“By building this knowledge from an early age, there’s a good chance they and their whānau will be better prepared in the future.

“We’d also love for tamariki/children and rangatahi/young people to take these messages home and encourage preparedness actions that will help keep their whānau safe,” Hamish says. 

The first stop on the roadshow is Tairāwhiti (Gisborne plus the East Cape), followed by a week in Wellington, then up to the Hawke's Bay (from Wairoa down to Hastings).