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Three major quakes recorded this morning, twice prompting tsunami evacuation warning

A magnitude 8.1 earthquake struck the Kermadec Islands, prompting a tsunami evacuation warning for parts of the North Island.

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The story so far: 

  • A 8.1 magnitude earthquake struck the Kermadec Islands at 8:28am
  • The quake prompted an evacuation warning for parts of the North Island
  • Coastal inundation is expected on the west coast of the North Island from Cape Reinga to Ahipara and on the east coast from Cape Reinga to Whangārei, from Matata to Tolaga Bay including Ōpōtiki and Whakatāne, and Great Barrier Island.
  • People near the coast in these areas must move immediately to nearest high ground or as far inland as possible

10.19am - To repeat earlier advice from Civil Defence - Evacuation advice overrides Alert Level 2 restrictions.

10.15am - A tsunami warning is in place for the Cook Islands.

10.05am - Ball said it was also hard to predict how long people would need to stay inland for.

10.03am - Acting director of the National Emergency Management Agency, Roger Ball, says the first waves won't be the biggest. The estimated wave height in the evacuation areas is between one to 3m.

9.59am - Police say a wave of 1 to 5m will hit Whakatāne in the next five to 10 mins

9.55am - Strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges near the shore are also expected in the following areas:

The West Coast of the North Island from Ahipara to Makara including the West Coast of Auckland, Manukau Harbour, New Plymouth, Whanganui and the Kapiti Coast.

The East Coast of the North Island from Whangārei to Matata including the East Coast of Auckland, Waiheke Island, Waitemata Harbour and Tauranga, from Tolaga Bay to Lake Ferry including Gisborne and Napier.

The West and South Coasts of the South Island from Farewell Spit to Puysegur Point including Westport, Greymouth and Hokitika.

The top of the South Island from Farewell Spit to Port Underwood including Nelson, Picton and the Marlborough Sounds.

The East and South Coasts of the South Island from the Waipara River to the Rakaia River including Christchurch and Banks Peninsula, from the Taieri River to Puysegur Point including Invercargill.

Stewart Island and the Chatham Islands are also included.

This means a threat to beach, harbour, estuary and small boat activities.

9.52am - Coastal inundation has been extended and is now expected in the following areas: The West Coast of the North Island from Cape Reinga to Ahipara.

On the east coast from Cape Reinga to Whangārei, from Matata to Tolaga Bay including Ōpōtiki and Whakatāne, and Great Barrier Island.

9.50am - The first waves may reach New Zealand in the areas around Lottin Point on the East Cape at approximately 9:49am, Civil Defence say.

9.45am - People in American Samoa are also evacuating. 

9.40am - “This is a big deal, my knees are shaking," Mai said. She advises people who are safely away from the tsunami zone to stay put.

9.37am - Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai says people should take this warning seriously, as she encouraged people to walk or ride to ease traffic congestion.

9.30am - School kids in Ngunguru, near Tutakaka, have moved up the hill. The tsunami sirens are still going off there.

9.25am - Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz says it is "better to be safe than sorry" as she implored people to evacuate.

9.24am - To reiterate an earlier update from Civil Defence, walk, run or cycle if at all possible to reduce the chances of getting stuck in traffic congestion.

9.23am - Whakatāne's Mayor says the town is congested as evacuations take place. Coastal campers in Matatā also evacuated.

9.20am - Carter said he wanted people to be sensible and safe.

9.18am - Far North Mayor John Carter says most are evacuating where he is. "Hopefully we can make sure everyone is safe," he said.

9.10am - For those near the coast evacuating, authorities say the evacuation overrides Covid Alert Level 2 rules.

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A large 8.0 magnitude earthquake has triggered a tsunami warning for some coastal areas of New Zealand. Source: 1 NEWS

9.05am - The tsunami siren is sounding in Tutukaka and other parts of Northland. The video above is from Langs Beach.

9.02am - Acting director of the National Emergency Management Agency, Roger Ball, says advice will evolve as they get more information through the morning. "We know that we have an hour and a half up our sleeve," Ball said.

8.48am - A tsunami warning has been issued following the second Kermadecs earthquake. People near the coast from the Bay of Islands to Whangārei, from Matata to Tolaga Bay including Ōpōtiki and Whakatāne, and Great Barrier Island must move immediately to nearest high ground, out of all tsunami evacuation zones, or as far inland as possible.

8.43am - The Kermadec Islands north-east of New Zealand has been rocked by a second major earthquake this morning, this time a magnitude 8.0 at a depth of 10km.

8.40am - The US Geological Survey says the distance between the two quakes mean they are unlikely to be related.

8.35am - Earlier, Gisborne's mayor spoke about the 7.1 magnitude quake off North Island's east coast. That story is in full here. 

'You could not miss it' – Gisborne mayor recounts being woken by severe 7.1 magnitude earthquake

8.20am - Ristow said to have large quakes in quick succession was unusual, after a second 7.4 magnitude quake struck near the Kermadec Islands before 7am.

8.18am - There had been four aftershocks over the magnitude  of 5 off the North Island's east coast, Ristow said.

8.17am - Ristow said there would have been damage if the quake had struck NZ itself, rather than 100km off the coast.

8.15am - GNS seismologist John Ristow said it was not unusual for a quake the size of the one that struck off the North Island's east coast this morning to have long shaking. Long shakes were reported around NZ after the 7.1 quake struck at 2.27am.

7.56am - Ball said potential surges would take some time to get to New Zealand because the quake was so far from the coast. No mobile alert would be issued because there was no threat to life, Ball said.

7.54am - Acting director of the National Emergency Management Agency, Roger Ball, said it was quite unusual to have two large quakes in the same morning. Ball said there was a very specific area between the Bay of Islands and Whangārei where people should stay out of the water because of unpredictable coastal surges.

"There is not a threat to land, there is no need for evacuations," he said.

7.40am - “People in or near the sea in the following areas should move out of the water, off beaches and shore areas and away from harbours, rivers and estuaries,” NEMA said.

7.35am - The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said strong currents and surges can injure and drown people, and present a danger to swimmers, surfers, people fishing, small boats and anyone in or near the water close to shore.

7.30am - A national advisory has been issued following the magnitude 7.4 earthquake that struck near the Kermadec Islands. "We expect New Zealand coastal areas to experience strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore," it said.

7.15am - A magnitude 7.4 earthquake has also struck near the Kermadec Islands at 6.41am, according to the United States Geological Survey.

7.10am - Here's one Hawke's Bay resident's account of the quake early this morning. He said "it took forever to stop".

'It was strong' - Hawke's Bay residents describe being woken by 7.1 magnitude quake

6.55am - Here is what it looked like when the quake struck at the NZ Post depot in Gisborne.

Moment severe 7.1 magnitude earthquake hits NZ Post depot in Napier captured on video

6.38am - The quake was felt as far south as Dunedin.

6.33am - Crews from the council would now go out to assess if there was any damage to buildings, roads, and pipes, Stoltz said. "I've heard reports of little bits of damage, nothing major at this stage," she said.

6.32am - Stoltz said it was a well done to everyone who had evacuated.

6.30am - Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz says she is very proud of how her community evacuated following the earthquake. “We teach our people if it’s long or strong be gone, if it’s a local earthquake you need to self-evacuate, you cannot wait for any advice,” she said. 

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National Emergency Management Agency’s Roger Ball spoke to from Wellington just before 6.30am. Source: Breakfast

6.25am - People should go to the Civil Defence website or look at the Civil Defence's Facebook page for the latest information, Ball said. "If there is a need to issue an Emergency Mobile Alert for an affected area, for an evacuation then we will do that,” he said.

6.24am - “If we do notice anything further of significance, then we will issue new advice," Ball told Breakfast.

6.22am - Ball said he was pleased by people along the North Island's east coast taking their safety into their hands and evacuating.

6.21am - Acting director of the National Emergency Management Agency, Roger Ball, says the national advisory for the beach and marine threat, meaning people can go about their day as normal.

6.20am: The National Emergency Management Agency says an emergency mobile alert (EMA) was sent to people from Cape Runaway to Tolaga Bay, with residents in that region told to evacuate.

6:10am: The tsunami warning has now also been lifted for marine areas as well as land.

6:00am: While aftershocks continue, they have decreased in magnitude and GeoNet has been listing the most recent ones as "unnoticeable", mainly in the mid threes. 

5:55am: Be sure to tune in to Breakfast on TVNZ1 at 6am for more coverage on this morning's events, or click here to watch OnDemand.

5:45am: 

5:25am: Civil Defence is still warning people to stay out of the water.

"Strong currents and surges can injure and drown people. There is a danger to swimmers, surfers, people fishing, small boats and anyone in or near the water close to shore.

"People in or near the sea in the following areas should move out of the water, off beaches and shore areas and away from harbours, rivers and estuaries.

"AREAS UNDER THREAT: The East Coast of the North Island from PORT CHARLES to MAHIA including Tauranga, Whakatane, Opotiki and Gisborne, and GREAT BARRIER ISLAND, and the CHATHAM ISLANDS.

"There is no tsunami threat in all other areas."

5:20am: Interviews with people who evacuated to higher ground at Haumoana, Hawke's Bay in the video below.

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Many in Haumoana were awaken from their slumber by the early morning quake. Source: 1 NEWS

5:08am: Good news in the latest update from Civil Defence.

5:05am: 1 NEWS reporter Sean Hogan says people who evacuated to higher ground at the local school in Haumoana, Hawke's Bay have been told they can return home.

4:50am: A steady stream of aftershocks continue at the site of the initial earthquake, mainly hovering around the 4.6 to 4.9 magnitude mark.

4:41am: 

4:35am: RNZ is reporting that hundreds of people in coastal Hawke's Bay have evacuated to higher ground.

There reporter Anusha Bradley says she and hundreds of people have evacuated up to Haumoana School.

4:24am: Over 350 people reported feeling a 5.4 magnitude aftershock which struck at a depth of 70km at the same location as the 7.1 magnitude earthquake.

This is the largest so far in a series of aftershocks.

4:21am: GeoNet has revised the earthquake to a 7.1 magnitude down from a 7.2.

4:20am: 

4:15am: RNZ is reporting that National Emergency Management Agency officials have confirmed a tsunami has been generated.

"NEMA [National Emergency Management Agency] and GNS Science have assessed that the magnitude 7.3 earthquake east of the North Island has created a tsunami that could cause coastal inundation (flooding of land areas) is expected in the The East Coast of the North Island from Cape Runaway to Tolaga Bay."

The first waves were detected on East Cape at about 3.15 am.

Strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges near the shore are expected in all other coastal areas of the North Island, Great Barrier Island, The South Island, Stewart Island and the Chatham Islands. This means a threat to beach, harbour, estuary and small boat activities.

The first wave may not be the largest. Tsunami activity will continue for several hours and the threat must be regarded as real until this warning is cancelled.

4:05am: Civil Defence says evacuation advice overrides the current Covid-19 Alert Level requirements.

"Listen to local Civil Defence authorities and follow any instructions regarding evacuation of your area. If you are told to evacuate do not stay at home."

Click here for the full tsunami warning from Civil Defence.

3:55am: Eight "weak" aftershocks have been registered by GeoNet since the initial earthquake struck at 2:27am.

3:52am: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is awake and has posted a message to New Zealand.

"Hope everyone is ok out there - especially on the East Coast who would have felt the full force of that earthquake," Ardern said.

3:50am: The first waves may have reached New Zealand in the areas around East Cape at approximately 3:34am, Civil Defence states.

3:35am: Civil Defence has issued an official tsunami warning:

We have issued a TSUNAMI WARNING for New Zealand coastal areas following the magnitude 7.3 earthquake near EAST OF THE NORTH ISLAND NEW ZEALAND. There is a LAND and MARINE TSUNAMI THREAT. An EMA will be issued to areas under land and marine tsunami threat.

3:26am: The latest message from Civil Defence: 

People near the coast from CAPE RUNAWAY to TOLAGA BAY should MOVE IMMEDIATELY to the nearest high ground, out of tsunami evacuation zones, or as far inland as possible.

Do not return until an official all-clear message is given by Civil Defence.

3:25am: A number of aftershocks have hit the same area as the original quake, the largest of these so far has been a 5.2 magnitude tremblor.

3:18am: Civil Defence says anyone near the coast who felt strong shaking should move to higher ground immediately.

2:50am: According to GeoNet, the earthquake struck 100 km east of Te Araroa at 2.27am.

The quake was 94km deep and GeoNet rated it as "severe".

Civil Defence is currently monitoring whether a tsunami has been generated.