Most holiday-makers have had enough to worry about so far this summer with wind and rain without fretting over the potential for a tsunami. And while he doesn't want to alarm anyone unduly, the Far North District Council's Civil Defence and Emergency Management Team leader Bill Hutchinson wants to raise awareness of the potential for that particular threat to lives and property.

There is ample evidence of tsunami coming ashore in the Far North in the past, including four described as moderate to large on Northland's east coast in the last 150 years alone.

AFTERMATH: damage done by a tsunami at Ahipara in 1916. PICTURE/TE AHU HERITAGE MUSEUM AND ARCHIVES
AFTERMATH: damage done by a tsunami at Ahipara in 1916. PICTURE/TE AHU HERITAGE MUSEUM AND ARCHIVES

At least one, possibly more, struck the very Far North around 600 years ago, while others dating back even further were credited with felling large tracts of kauri trees in the very Far North, providing the raw material for today's swamp kauri industry.

In light of that the district council has launched a tsunami awareness campaign, which will run in the Northland Age over the next four Tuesdays, starting next week. Each Tuesday edition will feature a picture of the Civil Defence gnome at a Far North location, readers being invited to email stating the location and one of the four natural warnings of a tsunami. Entries can also be dropped off at any FNDC service centre or library, but however they are delivered they must have the entrant's name, address and phone number.


Each week will end with a draw for a prize of a self-powered emergency radio that can be wound or solar-charged, including a torch and lantern, and can be used to charge a cell phone.

Entering the the competition will imply agreement to publication of entrants' names and photos, while all entries will become the property of the FNDC and may be used for promotional or marketing purposes.

If a winner cannot be contacted within two days the prize will be re-drawn.

Employees of the Northland Age, FNDC and Northland Regional Council are not eligible to enter.