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New Blue Lines a first for Hawke’s Bay

Porangahau blue line pic

The township of Pōrangahau is the first community in the region to receive tsunami 'Blue Lines' - a public education initiative the Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group (HBCDEM) says could save lives.

Blue Lines are road markings that show the maximum reach of a large tsunami and the safe places to evacuate to if there is a long or strong earthquake (an earthquake that lasts longer than a minute or one that is too strong to easily stand up in.)

A blessing for the region’s first Blue Lines was held by HBCDEM and Central Hawke’s Bay District Council on Friday afternoon. The blessing was led by Anthony Tipene-Matua of Rongomaraeroa Marae. There are now two new Blue Lines in Pōrangahau: One on Dundas Street and another on Blackhead Road.

HBCDEM Community Engagement Team Leader Jae Whelan says Blue Lines are an effective public education tool that, alongside the other tsunami signage in the area, will help keep the community safe.

“We are at risk of tsunami in Hawke’s Bay. In fact, the latest research concluded there is a one in four chance of a major, potentially tsunami-causing earthquake occurring offshore in the next 50 years,” Jae Whelan said.

“The Blue Lines are an innovative, high-impact and low-cost way to help us manage that risk for people who live in and visit the community here in Pōrangahau,” Jae Whelan said.

Blue Lines were pioneered at Island Bay in Wellington in 2010, when Wellington City Council worked with the local community to develop an effective tsunami public education campaign.

The initial Blue Line project won two International Association for Emergency Managers awards in 2012, and since then the concept has been rolled out in different communities around New Zealand - and has even been adopted by the Oregon Office of Emergency Management in the United States.

In July 2021, HBCDEM began consulting with the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (WREMO) on using Blue Lines in Hawke’s Bay.

“We know from Wellington’s experience that Blue Lines keep people aware of the tsunami risk and of the need to be prepared. They also complement our standard tsunami signage,” Jae Whelan said.

Central Hawke’s Bay Mayor Alex Walker attended the blessing and said it was significant that Pōrangahau was the first area in the region to utilise Blue Lines.

“Resilience runs deep in the Pōrangahau community, strengthened by a long history living along and near this beautiful coastline,” Mayor Walker said.

“They’re always prepared, and always look after each other.

“These new tsunami safe zone markings are a tangible result of that care and foresight, and an expression of manaakitanga to visitors and local residents,” Mayor Walker said.

Jae Whelan said that everyone who lives, works in or visits the area should get to know where the Blue Lines are.

“Remember, if an earthquake is long or strong, get past the Blue Lines immediately. Don’t wait for an official warning – get gone,” Jae Whelan said.

HBCDEM will be working with other councils and communities across the region to see where Blue Lines may be appropriate for other locations.

7 June 2022

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