Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller has called for a full-scale tsunami evacuation exercise involving all residents once sirens were installed in Tauranga's seaside suburbs.

"Unless the theories are put into practice, we will never know if it works properly," he said.

Mr Muller's high-profile stance on sirens comes just before next Tuesday's Tauranga City Council meeting, at which councillors will consider tsunami alert mechanisms for the city.

He supported the Government's urgent review of the text alert system after shortcomings were identified when early morning tsunami warnings went out after the Kaikoura earthquake.


"But we must not rely on texts alone to alert our seaside communities."

He said the coastal suburbs from Mount Maunganui to Papamoa East needed a siren-based alert system to wake people up.

"I will continue to push for a better text alert system and a quick resolution to the siren issue."

Mr Muller also intended to talk to the council about options to improve the escape routes for people fleeing a tsunami on foot.

He said the council's tsunami refuge mounds were a great new addition but November 14 showed that too many families who tried to walk the streets were impeded by new developments or temporary barriers.

The difficulties encountered getting to high ground were reported back to him by people who took to the streets in the early hours after the quake and by others who subsequently decided to test the overland escape routes later in the day.

Their experiences had convinced him a mass evacuation practice was needed involving people walking to high ground to escape a potential killer tsunami.

"If you practice once, it is far easier to do it the second time. Otherwise, in the heat of the moment, people forget everything they are supposed to do."

Mr Muller said people knew intuitively that if a tsunami was not far away, the roads would not cope with everyone jumping into their cars.

He believed that sirens were not the silver bullet but were part of a suite of solutions.

Sirens were very effective at 1am in the morning but less so when everyone was out and about and the wind was blowing in the wrong direction.

That was when text alerts helped out - they were also very useful to deliver up-to-date information, he said.

Mr Muller said a nationwide text alert system should be funded by central government while suburban sirens were a local government responsibility.

Other siren technologies that operated inside houses could be funded by householders, in the same way as smoke detectors.

Meanwhile, the online petition calling for the Mount and Papamoa to get sirens was only 93 supporters short of reaching 5000 signatures.

Organiser Renee Ball said the response had slowed down after an early surge of support, with everyone now focused on the council decision next Tuesday.

She would be at the meeting along with a few other members of the public to hear the debate.

"We want something to happen now, it needs to happen now. The whole community is behind us.''

Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless' tsunami alert priorities
- Sirens are a part of the tsunami alert systems.
- The Government should advise councils on the appropriate siren system
- Improve warning system to make it clear whether communities need to evacuate