Tsunami warning sirens in Auckland region deactivated from 1 December

Last Updated : 27 Nov 2023

The majority of Auckland’s tsunami warning sirens will be deactivated from 1 December 2023 and decommissioned, with the Emergency Mobile Alert the preferred method of notifying the public about dangerous tsunami threats. 

Auckland Emergency Management General Manager Paul Amaral is reassuring communities that the Emergency Mobile Alert is an effective and reliable way to alert the public to a tsunami threat.  

“In the event of a potential tsunami that could cause damaging waves or flood the land, an Emergency Mobile Alert will be broadcasted to all capable mobile phones. This is an effective means of alerting people to danger. 

“The Meerkat sirens at many sites across Tāmaki Makarau have been prone to vandalism and theft and therefore ultimately couldn’t be relied on as part of our tsunami alerting system.” 

Councillor Sharon Stewart, Auckland Council’s Civil Defence and Emergency Management Committee chairperson has reiterated the effectiveness of the Emergency Mobile Alert. 

“Aucklanders have become increasingly familiar with the Emergency Mobile Alert as an effective way to alert them to danger, having experienced this through the pandemic and during this year’s extreme weather events.” 

On 5 September Auckland Council’s Civil Defence and Emergency Management Committee voted to decommission the aging and compromised Meerkat tsunami siren network. 

The decommissioning relates to the older siren network, and not the two sirens installed in Ōrewa at in 2020, which will remain. 

The tsunami sirens that will be deactivated from 1 December are located in: 

Rodney Ward: Point Wells (3), Whangateau (1), Omaha (6) 

Albany Ward: Hobsonville (1), Waiwera (1), Herald Island (3) 

Waitākere Ward: Bethells / Te Henga (3), Piha (9), Karekare (3), Whatipū (1), Huia (6), Te Atatū (5) 

Many of these sites have older sirens installed which have been stolen or vandalised and use older, outdated technology.  

What are the official tsunami alert channels in the event of a tsunami emergency?  

Tsunami warnings are published on the National Emergency Management Agency’s website and social media pages. Tsunami warnings will also be broadcast on radio, television and news media, as well as on the Auckland Emergency Management website and social media pages. 

What are the natural warning signs for tsunami?  

If you are near a shore and experience any of the following, take action. Do not wait for official warnings. 

  • Feel a strong earthquake that makes it hard to stand or a long earthquake that lasts more than a minute 

  • See a sudden rise or fall in sea level 

  • Hear loud or unusual noises from the sea 

Remember! If an earthquake is LONG or STRONG, GET GONE and move to higher ground. 

Be prepared  

Prepare your household emergency plan and practice it so everyone knows what to do in an emergency and what you need to take if you are evacuating.  

Check the Auckland hazard viewer map. We are updating the tsunami evacuation maps in the near future so remember to check back regularly to see if your zone has changed.  

Check the tsunami preparedness tips and what to do before, during and after a tsunami.  

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