Northland tsunami siren network testing late September
Tsunami sirens from Te Hapua to Mangawhai will be tested later this month.
The 150-plus Northland sirens will sound on the morning of Sunday 27 September as part of regular twice-yearly checks to
ensure they’re all working correctly.
Victoria Randall, spokesperson for the Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group, says sirens around the
region will sound twice – firstly at 9.20am for 10 minutes and again at10am for just 30 seconds.
“Civil Defence community groups or local council staff will monitor the sirens at these times, reporting any faults for
Ms Randall says the siren network – 79 in the Whangarei district, 58 in the Far North and 14 in the Kaipara district –
has been set up to alert coastal communities in the event of a tsunami warning.
The shoebox-sized units, each with its own siren, flashing light and distinctive blue and yellow Civil Defence logo, are
attached to Northpower or Top Energy power poles in communities along the coast.
She says the flashing lights are blue on all but one of the 151 sirens; the sole exception is Tutukaka Harbour’s marina
tsunami siren, which has a yellow light designed to be more visible to boats using that area. (Tsunami events in recent
years have noticeably impacted on Tutukaka Harbour’s tides and currents.)
“To find out more about the North’s tsunami siren network warning system – including audio of what the sirens sound like
– visit www.nrc.govt.nz/tsunamisirens
or Far North, Kaipara or Whangarei District Council websites.”
Ms Randall says in the event of a real tsunami warning, the sirens are an indicator to local communities to seek further
“Rather than triggering evacuations, tsunami sirens are designed to alert people that they need to seek further
information about potential tsunami risks from official sources.”
Northland’s tsunami siren network provides a valuable warning system for coastal communities where the tsunami is
generated by distant seismic events allowing adequate official notification time, Ms Randall says.
However, tsunami generated by earthquakes close to New Zealand might not leave enough time for the siren warning network
to be activated.
“Recognising natural warnings from the surrounding environment is important in these situations.”
Ms Randall says natural warnings Northland coastal communities should always look out for include;
• Earthquakes, either strong with shaking ground or weak and rolling lasting a least a minute
• Unusual sea behaviour including a sudden sea level fall or rise
• Loud and unusual sea noises, particularly roaring like a jet engine.
“These may be the only warning signs from a nearby-generated tsunami as it may arrive as quickly as 70 minutes after a
major earthquake and there may not be time for an official Civil Defence notification.”
Meanwhile, she says information about Civil Defence generally is available from www.nrc.govt.nz/civildefence
or from the Civil Defence Facebook page www.facebook.com/civildefencenorthland