'This is not a test': Tsunami siren blunder alarms Canterbury beach residents


Photo: John Cosgrove
Photo: John Cosgrove
The Waikuku Beach tsunami siren was accidentally activated on Thursday afternoon causing confusion in the small coastal village.

Resident Heidi Culling says she was painting in her kitchen and noticed technicians working on the tsunami siren, on a pole, earlier in the day.

‘‘I could see it was possibly a mistake but a couple of minutes later heaps of cars came out of the camping ground in a hurry, and I tried to wave to them to tell them it might be a false alarm.’’

She says she could hear the message to evacuate quite clearly because she was close to the siren, but several streets over, Karen Mites says there was confusion trying to understand what the alert message was saying.

‘‘The quality of the recording was my main concern. I couldn't understand what it was saying, but as there was no message coming over my phone, so I grabbed my young neighbour, my dog and documents and headed down to the store where I met several other people who were a bit upset by it all.’’

Photo: John Cosgrove
Photo: John Cosgrove
Another concerned resident spoken to by the North Canterbury News says they too were a bit upset by the false alarm.

‘‘There has been no follow up or apology, nothing was on the web sites or coming in over the phone, so what were we to do?’’.

Another resident spoke of calling neighbours only to find they were already in their cars and on the their way to the safe point of the Warehouse carpark in Rangiora.

An hour later the Waimakariri District Council posted an Oops! message online saying the alert was quickly stopped by the maintenance technician.

They said there was no need to evacuate and no risk.

Civil Defence staff were on site and keeping an eye out for any residents who may have heard the message and reacted.

This scenario has happened before in Waikuku Beach, when during an actual civil defence exercise the siren was inadvertently triggered, and the same ‘‘this is no drill message’’  broadcast.