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Northland tsunami siren testing at beginning of daylight saving

16 Sep 2021, 11:07 AM

Northland’s six-monthly tsunami siren test will take place at the beginning of daylight saving on Sunday 26 September.

The network of more than 200 outdoor tsunami sirens in coastal communities, from Te Hapua in the north to Mangawhai in the south and Ruawai in the west, is checked twice a year, coinciding with the start and finish of daylight saving.

While acknowledging the effects on people arising from the current outbreak of COVID-19, Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group spokesperson Victoria Harwood said it is important to continue to test the siren network so that any faults can be identified and repaired.

“The tsunami risk to Northland’s coastline – and the rest of the country – remains as it always has been, and we need to be certain that this alerting technology is ready to go if it’s needed.”

The sirens sound twice: firstly at 10am for 10 minutes and then again at 10.30am for 30 seconds, and will be monitored for any faults.

Indoor sirens will be tested at the same time as the outdoor network. Test alerts will also be sent to users of the Red Cross Hazard app, which can be downloaded for free.

Northland’s outdoor tsunami sirens 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 Northland network has been progressively developed since 2007, with a total of 205 sirens installed over that time. However, these will eventually reach the end of their expected life and will need to be either replaced or upgraded.

Earlier this year, the region’s four councils agreed through their Long Term Plan (LTP) processes to support the replacement of the current sirens with a new option, providing greater reach – meaning fewer sirens would be required – and voice instruction functionality, allowing specific messages about the tsunami threat and the required actions can be provided in addition to a siren sound.

Contracts for the supply and installation of the new sirens are currently being worked on, with the $5 million project expected to take place over the next two-to-three years. The existing siren network will be maintained continuously throughout.

Mrs Harwood added that people should also 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