FAQs - Tsunami siren replacement project

The Northland tsunami siren network is being replaced with new, state-of-the-art sirens.

Find the answers to some of your questions about this project.

What is the purpose of the tsunami siren replacement project?

To provide Northland’s coastal communities with more effective warnings from tsunami threats by replacing the current aging and non-standard compliant siren network with new standard compliant sirens.

What are the benefits of the new sirens vs the old sirens?

The current sirens are reliant on the existing power network, attached to power poles, and cannot be activated any other way. They also cannot be activated individually and have very basic sound capabilities.

The new sirens have much greater sound coverage, can provide pre-programmed voice warning messaging as well as multi tone siren sounds, have back up batteries and solar power, and are activated separately from the mains power via the cell phone network or satellite.

This additional functionality will also allow Northland Civil Defence to activate individual sirens remotely to provided localised and even specific tsunami warnings.

Will you be adding sirens in new areas?

There are a couple of new areas covered but this project is primarily about replacing and upgrading our current network. Existing areas will see improved coverage due to the new sirens.

What do I do if I hear a tsunami siren?

Whether it’s the current sirens or the new sirens, when you hear one, the first thing to do is to seek further information. Here are some of the key places to check:

Follow the instructions given by Civil Defence and spread the word to people you think may be at risk.

Remember, tsunami sirens don’t necessarily mean you need to evacuate the area right away. They do mean you need to find out what the level of threat is.

Make sure you stay up-to-date and check multiple sources during the alert if you can. No single source of information works for everyone, so make sure you share any official alerts with others, especially those you know are isolated.

What do the new sirens sound like?

The new sirens will use the same siren tone as the current siren but will also intermittently place a voice warning message about the threat and the action required. We have kept the same siren tone to avoid confusion for residents already familiar with this tone.

You can hear the current siren here: Listen to the tsunami warning siren (MP3 121 KB)

Here’s an example of the new siren’s test message: Listen to the new tsunami siren TEST message (MP3 923 KB)

When will the sirens start being used and will the old and new sirens both be activated?

To avoid confusion, the current network will continue to be used until all the sirens have been replaced, then the new sirens will be used, and the old sirens removed.

What will happen with the current indoor sirens?

The current indoor sirens will continue to be activated simultaneously with the new outdoor sirens for the foreseeable future.

What are the natural warning signs of a tsunami?

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 quickly.

If you experience:

  • Out of the ordinary sea behaviour, such as sudden sea level rise or fall and/or an unusual noise.
  • A strong earthquake that is hard to stand up or lasts longer than a minute.

Don’t wait for official warning, evacuate, and wait in a safe place for the official all clear – a wave could arrive within minutes.

How can I find out if I live in a tsunami zone?

Find out if you live, work, or play in a tsunami zone so you can plan your evacuation route ahead of time.

To view our interactive maps, visit: www.nrc.govt.nz/evacuationzones

What is the timeline for the project?

With work starting in earnest in 2023, the project is set to be completed over the next two to three years.

Who is funding the project?

The project is funded by all four of the Northland’s councils, with support from the National Emergency Management Agency.

Will the new sirens still need to be tested on daylight savings?

Yes, the sirens will still need to be activated for a test at the beginning and end of daylight savings. However, they may not need to be activated for as long as the previous sirens.

For more information

For tsunami safety information, including what to do when you hear a siren, evacuation zones, and natural warning signs to look out for, check out: www.nrc.govt.nz/tsunami

For more information on the project, you can email your enquiry to: [email protected] with the subject ‘Northland Tsunami Siren Replacement Project’.