Civil Defence defends September quake tsunami alert

1:52 pm on 10 March 2017

Civil Defence says it didn't have the right information to issue a timely tsunami warning following November's 7.1 magnitude earthquake off the East Cape.

The 7.1 magnitude earthquake left large cracks in the sand at Rangitukia Beach near Te Araroa.

Residents evacuated to higher ground after the earthquake hit in September. Photo: Supplied / Ali Rewi

An internal review has found 31 issues with Civil Defence's response, including the 80-minute delay before a tsunami warning was issued.

That warning came 45 minutes after small tsunami waves hit.

The ministry's director, Sarah Stuart-Black, said officials had to wait for experts to review the earthquake and provide advice on the likelihood of a tsunami.

She said if Civil Defence consistently pre-empts that advice, it runs the risk of crying wolf and the public tuning out.

"If it's an earthquake above a certain size then we can immediately issue warnings. The problem is when it falls below that threshold and it may or may not have created a tsunami."

She said the ministry is looking at how it can get the alerts out faster.

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