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Published: 2011-06-07 00:00:00

Hundreds of people attended two open days in Whitianga over Queen’s birthday weekend to discuss plans for a new Eastern Coromandel Tsunami Strategy being developed by Thames-Coromandel District Council (TCDC) and Waikato Regional Council.

“I’d like to thank Whitianga people for the fantastic turnout at our two open days on Friday and Saturday,” said TCDC’s strategic relationships manager Peter Wishart.

“People came well informed about the issues and eager to share their ideas for improving the town's preparedness for and response to tsunami.”

The Eastern Coromandel Tsunami Strategy is being developed following new information indicating the east coast of the Waikato region faces a higher risk of tsunamis being generated by earthquakes in the Tonga-Kermadec trench to the north-east of New Zealand.

Work on the strategy is being rolled out in Whitianga first as it is considered the location most at risk from the impacts of tsunami.

Whitianga has a range of tsunami warning and evacuation arrangements in place already. Mr Wishart said key issues raised by people attending the open days included:

  • the need to get warnings out quickly and to make sure they can be heard and understood
  • the potential for traffic congestion and “pinch points” as people evacuate the town
  • the welfare of people during and after evacuation
  • the need to take a sensible approach to future development in the town to make evacuations easier or at least to not make things worse.

“There were many innovative and practical suggestions on these issues,” Mr Wishart said.

“We now need to sort through these responses in detail and compile all the feedback. We will then report back to the local community board on the feedback and on the next steps for developing a new tsunami management proposal for Whitianga.”

It is expected formal consultation on a tsunami management proposal for the town will be held around September-October this year.

The strategy team is planning to address tsunami planning in other Coromandel communities as the project progresses.

People with any queries about the tsunami project can call or email Peter Wishart at 07 868 0200 or Waikato Regional Council hazards and emergency manager Adam Munro (0800 800 401 and is also available to answer queries.

A summary document providing more information about the strategy is available at Hard copies of the document can be picked up from the Mercury Bay Area Office in Monk Street, Whitianga.