Earthquakes and tsunamis can't shake whānau spirits

By Te Ao - Māori News

Despite the earthquakes and aftershocks since the early hours of the morning, people on the east coastal areas of Aotearoa were quick to respond and evacuate to higher ground as tsunami alerts rang throughout the country.

The original 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck at 2.27am and was followed by a series of aftershocks, including 5.4 and 4.0 magnitude shakes.

Residents in Te Araroa evacuated their homes in the early hours of the morning following tsunami warnings and fled to the nearby maunga Ttitirangi.

By 3am Te Ao Mārama reporter Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes was on top of Titirangi among whānau seeking safety.

At the time of his arrival, 20 cars were already on Titirangi but within the hour many more whānau had crowded on the maunga.

Civil Defence alerted the country of another 8.1 earthquake at 8.45am which struck north-east of New Zealand near the Kermadec Islands.

Coastal areas across the country were forced to evacuate to higher ground.

In Tokomaru Bay, whānau had escaped to higher ground and caught sight of the first waves hitting the shores.

Even though multiple tsunami warnings rang out around the country, one whaea encouraged her community to get behind each other, as the sides of a road on higher ground were filled with vehicles and people.

Meanwhile, Tūhoe Te Uru Taumatua has shown great manaakitanga to the many evacuees around the coastal areas of Bay of Plenty by opening its doors to hundreds of whānau.

One Whaktāne man, who sought refuge at Te Urutaumatua with his whānau, says, "We followed the other people coming through and we could see the other banners, which helped to show us find the way in."

He says, "Other people, like friends and colleagues, had called us and helped us to move to higher ground."

Since then, the National Emergency Management Agency confirmed the tsunami threat has been downgraded across Aotearoa.

Coastal areas are expected to experience strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges.

Warnings are still in place for swimmers, surfers, people fishing, small boats and anyone in or near the water close to shore.

People in or near the sea in the following areas should move out of the water and away from harbours, rivers and estuaries.