About 250 students had to be evacuated to higher ground from a Kaitaia school this morning after an overnight magnitude 8.1 quake sparked a tsunami warning.
Kaitaia Abundant Life School teacher Opologe Ah Sam told 1 NEWS the school was told to evacuate at 9.30am, just as lessons were getting underway.
Within the hour, four buses were called and the students were taken to Kaitaia Airport, the closest point of high ground for the school.
The students were now being “kindly hosted” by Te Rangi Aniwaniwa near the airport.
“The kids are just swapping musical items, singing to each other, trying to keep the mood positive and look after the little ones who are a little bit upset,” Ah Sam said.
He said traffic was “unusually heavy” during the initial “chaos” of the evacuation.
An alert message to evacuate and move to higher ground for people in parts of the North Island was sent out this morning following a powerful earthquake near the Kermadec Islands this morning. The tsunami warning was lifted just before 1.30pm.
The 8.1 quake at a depth of 10km struck at 8.28am following a 7.1 earthquake which struck at 2.27am.