Following any significant emergency, the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM) reflects on how well things went while also looking for opportunities to make things better – there is no better time to identify improvements than immediately after an emergency. Our report has concluded that for the response on 14 November 2016, correct procedures were followed, however it also recognises that the complexity of the earthquake and subsequent rapidly changing information had a direct bearing on the initial response.
The Kaikoura earthquake on 14 November 2016 was a local source event – that is, an earthquake that occurs within circa 500km of New Zealand.
In a local source event there is very little time to issue official warnings, and warnings may not reach the areas nearest to the earthquake before the first tsunami waves arrive. People must therefore not wait for official warnings but instead know the natural warning signs of tsunami and take appropriate action.
If you are at the coast and experience any of the following:
Move immediately to the nearest high ground, or as far inland as you can.
MCDEM is responsible for tsunami warnings. When an offshore earthquake occurs which has the potential to generate a tsunami, MCDEM has a 24-7 arrangement with Geonet to source scientific advice to inform notifications to the public.
When time allows the advice is further supported by the Tsunami Experts Panel - a group of tsunami science experts convened by Geonet to inform ongoing advice or updates to the public. As noted above, MCDEM advises people to take immediate action following a local source earthquake.