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Tsunami evacuation drill surprises Marewa trio


“You either get up that hill or you don’t, and that’s up to you.”

Napier resident Pip Mackay was one of a trio of flatmates who took on the challenge of a surprise tsunami evacuation drill last night, live on national television.

Seven Sharp reporter Lucas de Jong sprung the three Marewa-based flatmates – Ms Mackay, Ulric Warner and Morgan Weastell – with a magnitude 8.9 Hikurangi subduction zone earthquake scenario, leaving them to quickly work out what to do.

In the scenario, the earthquake caused widespread liquefaction, damaged buildings and roads, and – most alarmingly – triggered a tsunami that gave the flatmates 20 minutes to reach safety.

Ms Mackay said the exercise was an eye-opener.

“I was very fortunate to go through it – I learnt so much,” Ms Mackay said.

“If you don’t already know your plan, you’re going to be behind – if you have to figure it all out at the time, that’s where your energy is spent.

“If you take a wrong turn and have to go an extra block, it could take four or five minutes – and that time could be the difference between being able to get to safety, or not.”

Taking the time to make and practise your plan buys precious time when it’s needed most, Ms Mackay said.

“If you just schedule in a half-hour block of your life, that would probably be enough to talk about it with your family or flatmates, work out what you need, where you’re going to go and how you’re going to get there.

“Everyone’s responsible for their own actions – you get to decide your own fate in some ways.

“There is an element of personal responsibility, like anything in life.”

Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group Manager Ian Macdonald said the segment showed just how important it was to prepare for emergencies.

“Although they are a very rare events, a large earthquake and tsunami could potentially devastate our coastal communities – which is why we place such a strong emphasis on preparing for a tsunami self-evacuation.

“For me, the show highlighted three key things people should do to speed up their reaction times.

“Have a grab-and-go bag handy with some basic supplies such as warm clothing, water and snacks, a battery-powered radio and essential medication.

“Pre-plan your route to a safe location inland or to higher ground, and practise your ‘tsunami hīkoi’ to that location.

“Understand the impacts of a major earthquake such as how liquefaction may hinder your ability to drive, or how damaged roads or bridges may change your evacuation route.”

Knowing these essentials could have given the trio more time to reach safety, he said.

Mr Macdonald said most Hawke’s Bay people live near, or visit, places that are at risk of tsunami and it was vital they knew what to do.

“For a local-source tsunami, which could arrive in minutes, there won’t be time for an official warning.

“It is important to recognise the natural warning signs and act immediately.

“If you are at the coast and feel a strong earthquake that makes it hard to stand up, or a long earthquake that lasts a minute or more; see a sudden rise or fall in sea level; or hear loud and unusual noises from the sea, drop, cover and hold.

“When the shaking stops, move immediately to the nearest high ground, or as far inland as you can.”

For more information on getting ready to get thru a civil defence emergency, visit or follow Hawke’s Bay Emergency on Facebook.


7 June 2019

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