This article is being written on Friday from high ground under a tsunami alert at my parents' place in Raumanga overlooking the Whangārei harbour.
One hour ago we received an urgent tsunami alert, one of four that I would receive over the morning as the tsunami response unfolded. I was initially in the central city with the first alert and after checking my staff were safe I made my way via Kioreroa Rd to higher ground in Raumanga.
On the way I observed several things. Hundreds of council staff members were evacuating from Walton Plaza and walking in a phalanx up Bank St. I spoke with them and they told me they were walking to their tsumani high-ground safe place, which was by the Countdown up in the Regent, a not insignificant walk.
Some also mentioned that the courthouse was another collection place for some organisations. It looked an ordered and pragmatic evacuation and the mood was sombre but purposeful.
Traffic through town was congested for everyone, but even with delays people were just dealing with it. Turning along Kioeroa Rd, there were workers with high-vis jackets high up on the hill above the RSPCA and turning into Tauroa St the Bunnings workers were outside in the high ground of their carpark.
Manaia Primary School was on the way so I stopped to see if they needed a hand. Their principal Leanne and I had worked together many years ago and she welcomed me with open arms and we talked about their needs.
They were probably on high ground already and a structured evacuation of children to arriving parents was already under way. We agreed that if they were concerned, remaining staff and children would walk the 10 minutes further up the hill to my parents' place.
The next call was to the Minister for Civil Defence to be kept up to date and to offer any assistance, and then there was a barrage of media looking for updates.
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My staff on high ground in coastal areas were starting to report a brown surge and over the morning there were further tsunami alerts as we watched the harbour from a distance and worried about some of our closest coastal schools, Ngunguru, Ruakākā, One Tree Point.
Our minds also turn to rural coastal communities outside the tsunami alert system and at a distance from cell towers and standard communications.
We can also see the chimney of Marsden Point and with it being closer to the open sea and a funnelling effect of close-by land at Reotahi, I am concerned for New Zealand Refining.
We are still among the tsunami alert as I pass in this copy for publication but by this time tomorrow we will know what the impact has been. There will be things we can learn, there always is.
How quickly and comprehensively we can embed what we have learnt will be the challenge and the opportunity. My hope today is that everyone is safe.
• Dr Shane Reti is deputy leader of the National Party and a list MP based in Whangārei.