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Hikurangi fault research will help NZ to be better prepared

9 March 2018

Hikurangi fault research will help New Zealand to be better prepared

The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM) is welcoming GNS Science’s announcement of two sub-seafloor observatories that will study the Hikurangi subduction zone, New Zealand’s largest earthquake and tsunami hazard.

“Scientific research helps us to better understand our hazards and risks, which we use to strengthen our plans and arrangements to help make sure we’re better prepared for disasters. The underwater observatories project to study the Hikurangi project are a great example of science working to help keep us safe,” says MCDEM Director Sarah Stuart-Black.

The Hikurangi subduction is sits off the east coast of the North Island, and is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire where the Pacific tectonic plate dives beneath the Australian plate. There are still lots of unknowns about this subduction zone, however scientists believe the Hikurangi subduction zone is capable of generating earthquakes greater than magnitude 8, with the potential to generate large tsunamis.

“Understanding more about these zones and their ability to generate large tsunamis will allow for better risk modelling and hazard preparation for our coastal communities.

“As we learn more about the science we continue to refine our response and recovery plans. However, New Zealand is already well prepared through planning, public education and the development of local evacuation zones.”

Mrs Stuart Black says the Hikurangi subduction zone has the potential to cause a local source tsunami.

“If this fault generated a tsunami, the first waves could arrive within minutes. This is why it’s important to remember Long or Strong Get Gone, because there may not be time to issue an official warning.”

To find out more about staying safe in a tsunami and to check out your region’s evacuation maps, visit

To find out more about getting prepared, and to make a plan for your household, visit


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