Ten to twelve tsunami warning sirens will be installed along 15 kilometres of coastline from near Mount Maunganui Primary School to Papamoa East.
They will also be capable of broadcasting important tsunami emergency messages.
The communities along this stretch of coastline are those in the highest flood risk zone from a tsunami compared with other coastal areas of Tauranga.
The Tauranga City Council has approved stage one of the project which will involve six to eight voice-over sirens along the Omanu – Papamoa coast down to Wairakei. This strip has the widest tsunami flood areas, the furthest to travel to safe areas, and contains the largest population.
Stage two will add sirens along the 3km from Mount Maunganui Primary School to Omanu. This area has a large daytime population including schools.
Planning for the final location of each siren is already underway and their installation will be completed before the end of 2021.
Councillor Steve Morris says the council will talk to the community about the location of each of the sirens. Sirens with voice-over capability are more effective than those with alerting tones only as voice messages are able to help drive actions and reduce confusion.
“Tsunami sirens are one of many ways we can alert our community,” says Cr. Morris.
“There are already national mobile altering systems, which are regularly tested and promoted, localised maps that highlight evacuation routes and safe zones, the Red Cross hazard app and national ‘Get Ready, Get Thru’ education campaigns.
“The main message in all the education campaigns is to not only depend on an official alert. If you feel a strong earthquake, get gone - if it’s long or strong, get gone.”
Once the sirens are in place, there will be a community campaign, including testing, so everyone knows what to expect and what to do when they hear the sirens.
Further work needs to be done to understand whether additional siren sites are required for the remaining tsunami hazard areas in Tauranga, including Mount North, Matua and Welcome Bay. This assessment would allow for further budget consideration in the council’s next Long-term Plan.
“We will be talking to our community through the next long-term plan budget process to ensure any further investment in sirens meets their needs,” says Steve.