Skip navigation

World Tsunami Awareness Day reminds us to get prepared

Tsunamis are a powerful force of nature and a real risk we face here in New Zealand.

The good news, says Sarah-Jayne McCurrach, Head of Risk Reduction and Resilience for Toka Tū Ake EQC, is that we often have some warning before they arrive, and there’s a lot we can do to prepare.


Sarah-Jayne McCurrach, Head of Risk Reduction and Resilience

This Sunday is World Tsunami Awareness Day and McCurrach, who spent eight years as part of the Pacific Tsunami Warning System, says collectively we should all take a moment to understand the right actions to take before a tsunami happens – especially if we live or work near the coast.

“We all have a role to play in recognising when we need to move to safety and helping others as we go. Remember, if you feel a long or strong earthquake, get gone,” McCurrach says.

“It is reassuring to know that New Zealand and the Southwest Pacific have the second largest tsunami monitoring and detection network in the world, through the deployment of 12 Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunami (DART) buoys. These have been strategically positioned around the region and can detect if a tsunami has been generated, enabling NEMA to issue warnings to allow communities to move to safety.

“Toka Tū Ake EQC also continues to invest in science to further our understanding of tsunami impacts around New Zealand and use this information to improve how we manage tsunami risk to keep our whānau, communities, and properties safe.”

“We are also supporting communities around New Zealand so they can better understand how far a tsunami may travel inland. This is to help local and regional councils in higher-risk areas make better decisions as they not only plan their evacuation routes, but where to build in the future for smarter land-use planning.”

Tsunami risk management is a multi-agency, multisector effort and Toka Tū Ake is one of many agencies working hard to ensure our communities are aware of their risk and are prepared.

“Take a moment today to look at your local or regional council maps, see if you live in a tsunami zone and make a plan with your friends and whānau should you feel a long or strong earthquake,” says McCurrach. “It can be scary to think about a tsunami happening on our shores, but it’s important to be prepared.”(external link)

World Tsunami Awareness Day(external link) is led by the United Nations. The National Emergency Management Agency Get Ready website(external link) is the one stop shop for tsunami tips, including the national evacuation map.