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‘Ready or not, here they come’

Napier coast 3 270417

A study of Napier Hill residents found they would be happy to host and support evacuees following an earthquake or tsunami.

Hawke's Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group Controller Ian Macdonald says the study was a great way to understand how the community felt about having people on their doorstep looking for help.

“If we have a tsunami, people need to evacuate inland or to higher ground, and that could mean 12,000 more people on the hill. We wanted to find out the ‘what then’ – would residents be willing to help the evacuees, and what would that look like?" Ian Macdonald said.

“We invited people to take part in focus groups or complete a survey to answer these questions, and were really pleased to hear what people told us. Napier Hill residents were generally happy to host evacuees and offer support if they could, though only for the first few days."

The focus groups were given a scenario of a magnitude 8.9 earthquake and tsunami from the Hikurangi subduction zone and asked to reflect on the scenario, their priorities, and their willingness and ability to support evacuees. The scenario described intense shaking, widespread liquefaction, land subsidence and severe damage from a series of tsunami waves and aftershocks following the initial magnitude 8.9 earthquake.

“During an event like this it is expected that there would be damage to water infrastructure and so people may be without running water for some time, so it’s important to keep at least a three-day supply of water — a minimum of three litres of drinking water per person per day,” said Ian Macdonald.

Dr Julia Becker, Senior Lecturer at Massey University, led the research and said the study was useful for highlighting practical next steps to support the community.

“A key outcome of the study was highlighting the need to do more community-led risk reduction planning, identifying local needs, abilities, and critical enabling resources, while preparing Napier Hill and surrounding areas better for disaster events.”

Napier City Councillor and Napier Hill resident Hayley Browne holds the Community Resilience portfolio and was interested in the results of the study.

“The Hill Host research reiterates that it’s part of our nature as Kiwis to be welcoming, particularly in times of need. I’m excited for the next step where we can do a bit of forward planning and support our communities to be best prepared for supporting each other in their time of need,” said Hayley Browne.

Following the research project, Napier City Council developed a resource flyer that was mailed out to nearly 2,000 households on the Napier Hill to raise awareness and spark ideas about how hill residents could host evacuees in case of an emergency. NCC also invited interested residents from Neighbourhood Support Groups to a hui to discuss ways to increase preparedness on the hill. As an outcome of this work, NCC is currently working with volunteers on the hill to source locations for at least three large water tanks (4,000 litres each) for community to access in an emergency.

The study was done with Massey University as part of a wider East Coast Life at the Boundary research around earthquakes.

Find out how you can prepare for an earthquake or tsunami.

For more detailed information on the study head to the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience

The study was jointly funded by Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management, East Coast Life at the Boundary, and Napier City Council, while Massey University conducted the research in association with the Resilience to Nature’s Challenges Kia Manawaroa – Ngā Akina o Te Ao Tūroa  research programme.

18 August 2021

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