Muriwai maunga protects worst affected tamariki from tsunami

By Taroi Black
The maunga that will protect the tamariki. Source/File.

The small East Coast community of Muriwai will be one of the hardest hit regions in New Zealand if a tsunami occurred.

Muriwai is indicated by the Gisborne District Council’s tsunami inundation report to be in the red zone faced with tsunami risks from near or far within the local Hikurangi Subduction Zone.

Gisborne District Council Mayor Rehette Stoltz told Te Ao Maori News public information sessions are available at the town’s library to ensure whānau know what to do.

“The maps are really easy to follow, you take a look at where you live and it will show you how to get out of the red, orange and yellow zones,” Stoltz says.

However, great news for Te Kura o Te Muriwai who only have a hill to climb up in the event of a tsunami or taianiwhaniwha.

Today, students conducted their school evacuation drill which only took minutes for them to get to high ground. In a real event, people only have 15 minutes to evacuate before the surges come.

School Tumuaki Ihipera Whakataka says, “We work closely with Civil Defense and Emergency. So every week, we keep in close contact with them.”

Council have advised whānau in the region to prepare themselves, and to have food and supplies ready for a potential worst case scenario. For Te Kura o Te Muriwai, water, dry foods and supplies are already set for a potential 72 hour shut down.

“I was only a kid attending this kura and knowing what to do in the event of a tsunami to run up the hill at the back.”

A series of tsunami inundation modelling videos released by Council will help to inform Tairāwhiti residents of the potential threat from an 8.9 magnitude earthquake in the Hikurangi subduction zone. Paired with evacuation route options, residents are urged to move with urgency.

“We've got two types of earthquakes, if an earthquake happened far away in Chile, we will have 12 to 15 hours warning,” Stoltz says.  

“So we'll be able to go knock on door to door and knock and tell people to evacuate. If an earthquake happens locally we might not have warnings so we want to equip whānau to evacuate themselves.”