Gisborne tsunami plan to save innocent lives

By Taroi Black
Photo / File

An evacuation plan is on the cards to alert Gisborne whānau to evacuate in the event of a tsunami that could kill thousands.

But the Gisborne District Council is encouraging Tairāwhiti iwi and hapū to create their own emergency and procedure action plan following the tsunami evacuation areas report.

It highlights the impacts of the worst-case scenario of a tsunami generated from an 8.9 magnitude earthquake that can destroy thousands of homes and businesses.

Deputy mayor Josh Wharehinga warns whānau to act swiftly, “If it's long or strong, get gone. This is my safety message to iwi and hapū.”

Photo / File

Gisborne residents living on the coastline are in the red and orange zone, indicating tsunami risks from near or far. The yellow indicates the inundation generated from the 8.9 ru whenua (earthquake) within the local Hikurangi Subduction Zone.

In the event of a tsunami, you only have 15 minutes to evacuate before the surges come.

Some residents told Te Ao they were not aware of the report released by council. However, Deputy Mayor Wharehinga is confident that local government will provide an emergency plan for every household, business and school in the district in days to come.

Te Ao previously reported that Rongowhakaata identified holes in the current emergency plans for the rohe.

Current procedures do not have evacuation steps in place for kaumātua who live outside of cell-phone coverage and our hauā (disabled) community. 

Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust chair Moera Brown has confirmed that two of their marae, Whakatō and Manutuke, will be open to whānau when disasters come. However, the marae are both located in the yellow zone. 

The iwi also worked with Ngai Tāmanuhiri, who engaged with Indonesian emergency services after the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004. An estimated 225,000 from ten countries tragically died in that disaster.

He aha te tsunami (tai āniwhaniwha)?

Tsunami are series of waves, known as an inundation or a serge, that can travel as fast as jet planes, that are caused by Rūāumoko’s movements under the moana. Earthquakes, underwater volcanic eruptions and submarine landslides can start these waves. The Gisborne District Councils report predicted a 10-metre wave could come. The speed of tai āniwhaniwha depends on ocean depth rather than the distance from Ruamoko’s movements.

Warning Message: If an earthquake is longer than one minute and its strong enough to throw you to the ground, self-evacuate. 

How to Prepare for Disasters

Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust +64 6 862 8086