No tsunami warn­ing siren for Porirua


The best warn­ing of an ap­proach­ing tsunami in Porirua is an earth­quake and those wait­ing for a siren put them­selves at risk, say ex­perts.

Talk of com­mu­nity re­sponses to a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter come af­ter the re­cent Kaik­oura earth­quakes, which left many con­fused about the cir­cum­stances in which they should evac­u­ate.

Welling­ton Re­gional Emer­gency Man­age­ment Of­fice (Wremo) agree that Porirua is at high risk for a lo­cally-gen­er­ated tsunami, but cur­rently, an earth­quake is the only im­me­di­ate warn­ing of a tsunami.

Res­i­dents have ques­tioned why there is not a bet­ter warn­ing sys­tem in place for Porirua, par­tic­u­larly when Lower Hutt has a series of sirens to warn of a tsunami or flood­ing.

Wremo se­nior emer­gency ad­vi­sor for Porirua, Trevor Farmer, said earth­quakes do the job of a siren.

‘‘If you’re re­ly­ing on the siren you ig­nore the ac­tual warn­ing. You must act on the nat­u­ral source - the earth­quake.’’

A siren is not a prac­ti­cal op­tion at a lo­cal level as of­fices that would be in charge of mon­i­tor­ing the siren would evac­u­ate too, Farmer said.

The mes­sage is: if an earth­quake is long and strong, or short and vi­o­lent, be gone.

‘‘The onus is on the in­di­vid­ual - whose re­spon­si­bil­ity is it for your life?’’

Mana MP Kris Faafoi said that in the short term peo­ple had to ac­cept that there was not cur­rently a warn­ing sys­tem in place.

‘‘Be­ing pre­pared is the most im­por­tant thing and peo­ple should do this by hav­ing sup­plies and get­ting to higher ground.’’

As for the long term, Faafoi said the Min­istry of Civil De­fence’s chief ex­ec­u­tive had told him that they were look­ing into a na­tional text mes­sage warn­ing sys­tem, which should be im­ple­mented in the next 18 months.

Ideally, Faafoi would like a siren and a na­tion-wide text mes­sage sys­tem.

Porirua mayor Mike Tana doubted the need for a siren.

‘‘If a big quake rup­tures the seabed in Cook Strait, wait­ing for a siren would not be ap­pro­pri­ate. Peo­ple need to flee as quickly as pos­si­ble.’’

For more in­for­ma­tion on be­ing pre­pared for a tsunami, read our new Civil De­fence col­umn, P26.


Signs will be dis­played on the high­way, such as this one from the Novem­ber 14 Kaik­oura quake.

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