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Northland tsunami siren testing at end of daylight saving: revised time, shorter duration

22 Mar 2021, 3:53 PM

Northland’s tsunami siren test will go ahead at the end of daylight saving on Sunday 4 April.

However in recognition of both the day – which coincides with Easter Sunday – and the recent activations of the sirens, the test will begin at midday and run for just two minutes.

“Although we’ve had some public feedback following the siren activation on 5 March in particular, the six-monthly checks are necessary to identify any faults and keep the network in good working order,” said Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management Group spokesperson Victoria Harwood.

Minimising the test time to two minutes (down from the usual 10 minutes plus a further 30 seconds) is an acknowledgement that some people remain unsettled by the sound of the sirens.

As usual, indoor tsunami sirens will be tested at the same time and test alerts will be sent to users of the Red Cross Hazard app, which can be downloaded for free. However Emergency Mobile Alerts – the platform used to send alerts on 5 March – will not be sent (this platform is tested nationally and usually at the end of each year).

The Northland tsunami siren network has progressively been developed since 2007, with a total of 205 sirens installed over that time. They are funded and owned by the region’s three district councils (Far North, Whangarei and Kaipara) and operated in a partnership which also includes the two electricity networks (Northpower and Top Energy).

The sirens will eventually reach the end of their expected life and Northland CDEM Group has been working on a proposal to upgrade the network with a newer option which has greater reach – meaning fewer sirens required as replacements – and voice functionality, allowing specific messages about the tsunami threat and the required actions to accompany the siren sound.

The cost of the upgrade has been estimated at $4.5 million and is being progressed through the respective Long Term Plan (LTP) processes of Northland councils.

Mrs Harwood added that people should continue to be aware of the risk of local source tsunami (those generated on or close to the coast), which could arrive ahead of any official warning. “Everyone who spends time on the coast needs to know the natural warning signs of tsunami – a strong earthquake that is hard to stand up in or one that lasts longer than a minute, or out-of-the ordinary sea behaviour, such as sudden rise or fall and/or unusual noise.”

To hear Northland’s outdoor and indoor tsunami sirens online visit www.nrc.govt.nz/tsunamisirens