A Northland education leader says yesterday's tsunami alert response was "just another day" for local schools who are well into the swing of coping with emergencies.
Pat Newman, Te Tai Tokerau Principals' Association (TTPA) president and Hora Hora Primary School principal, said the year-long experience of dealing with Covid-19 had strengthened the resolve of schools when faced with a crisis.
"We are very supportive of each other. We had emails flying around 150 principals up here talking about what we would do and what we could do."
More than 25 schools across Northland - most in the Far North - evacuated pupils to higher ground. Other schools located outside of the evacuation zones allowed concerned parents to pick their children up during the day.
Many schools outside of the Civil Defence tsunami evacuation zones allowed parents to pick pupils up throughout the day.
Between 400 and 500 Whangārei District Council and Pak'nSave employees gathered at Whangārei Primary School.
Newman said the fact there were three earthquakes and each was accompanied by a Civil Defence alert had created some confusion.
"There's no one to blame for that. We spent a lot of time second-guessing what today was going to bring, you just don't know with a tsunami when it's going to hit, which made things difficult."
The biggest takeaway, Newman said, was for parents to stay calm and engage with the many ways schools use to communicate with them.
He said schools put information out via text messaging, Facebook pages, emails and phone contact.
"We want them to realise we're keeping their kids safe and we go beyond expectations to take care of them."
All schools and early learning services have emergency management plans.
Bream Bay College principal Wayne Buckland said his school, which is located less than 2km from Ruakākā's coastline, practised every year the process of evacuating to higher ground.
"But this is the first time we had to do it for real," he said.
At 8.47am they received the Civil Defence tsunami alert and by 9am they had around 540 students and 60 members of staff safely located 45m above sea level on Marsden Pt Rd.
"I'm really, really happy with how everything went with getting the students up to the evacuation area."
Buckland said students were really good but as the hours passed some started to become more anxious.
"Teachers phoned home to talk to the parents of students who were unable to phone themselves, and senior students went around chatting to the kids to put them at ease."
Local school buses across Northland were immediately halted and would only run once they were given the all-clear.
Buckland said if the alert had dragged out into the evening they had plans and the means to access resources to take care of students and staff.