A false alarm triggered automated tsunami warnings across the
Eastern Bay of Plenty for seven minutes last night, prompting
fears residents might ignore a genuine alert.
The incident at 8.02pm came only two months after a software
glitch wrongly triggered the pager-activated tsunami alarm
Eastern Bay of Plenty Civil Defence said sirens sounded for
seven minutes last night in Whakatane, Opotiki, Matata,
Coastlands, Ohiwa, Waiotahi and Waihau Bay.
It appeared the sirens did not sound in Ohope.
Whakatane resident Geoff Cottrell said the local radio
station did not give any information after the alarm sounded,
so his household evacuated up the hill.
It was concerning that only four or five other families did
the same, he said.
"It appears the alarm is no longer being taken seriously by
the population," Mr Cottrell said.
"This is simply not good enough and needs urgent review
before we all stop responding to the alarm and assume that
it's just another computer failure."
Eastern Bay of Plenty emergency management co-ordinator Jim
Tetlow said the matter was under urgent investigation, but it
remained unknown what had caused the issue.
Additional security measures had been put in place after the
previous false alarm, which was caused by a software glitch,
"Unfortunately, last night the alert system sounded again
last night without being intentionally activated by Civil
"We are investigating the cause of the activation with our
provider, Kordia, and will update the public on the cause as
soon as it is understood."
Opotiki mayor John Forbes said the main concern was people
losing faith in the system.
Many people did the right thing by tuning in to local radio,
which had been prompt in supplying information to the public,
"But I appreciate there is a high risk that people will stop
paying attention to the alerts and this is a concern for
"It's possible that there will be further issues before the
root cause of this problem is found, but I encourage people
to continue to treat the sirens as they are intended - as a
warning signal to find out more about the situation.
Whakatane District Council public affairs officer Ross
Boreham said the system was automated so it was unlikely the
false alarm was caused by human error.
- By Matthew Backhouse of APNZ