TSUNAMI WARNING LATEST
* (1.25pm) GNS Science has downgraded tsunami warnings for New Zealand, advising the largest waves have now passed. A National Emergency Management Agency release says the threat level's now downgraded to a beach and marine threat for all areas that were previously under land and marine threat. It says all people who were evacuated can now return. The advice remains for all areas under beach and marine threat, to stay off beach and shore areas.
* Doubtless Bay residents in the Far North reporting seeing a surge of water come into the harbour. "The surge came!," one resident posted on social media. "Over the past hour a strong surge has been flowing into Mangonui Harbour. No tsunami wave as such but more like a strong flowing river stirring up the mud and sand in the harbour."
* Civil Defence update (11.54am): Surge activity is being seen in multiple locations along Northland's coast. Remain evacuated until an official all-clear.
* Ahipara Horse Treks owner Lohnet Murray had to evacuate 10 horses and two miniature ponies to higher ground this morning. Murray called in her team of six staff to help ride and lead the horses to a paddock on the hill. "We rode some and led some and put the two minis on a trailer. "We had a full day's bookings and had to cancel the treks today."
* Police in Northland have closed the Whangārei city centre to the public.
* Tinopai School is the evacuation point for people in Tinopai in the Kaipara Harbour.
* All Refining NZ staff were safely evacuated this morning following the earthquake. A spokeswoman said oil refining operations were already in shutdown mode due to the scheduled March 2021 turnaround maintenance programme.
* The top part of Whangārei at the Regent was calm and virtually empty compared to lower city centre earlier as everyone flocked to higher ground. Among the throngs were vets carrying cages of pets up Bank St.
* At Whangārei Intermediate School students congregated on the cycle track; girls and some parents were crying. Lots of concerned parents were charging around on their phones searching for their children.
* Swarm of earthquakes in Pacific - including magnitude 8.1 quake in Kermadec Islands at 8.28am (NZT) - spark Civil Defence warnings.
* Tsunami warning for large parts of North Island coast - people near coast from the Bay of Islands to Whangarei, from Matata to Tolaga Bay, Great Barrier Island, and west coast of the North Island from Cape Reinga to Ahipara told to move immediately
* There are two different types of tsumani threat. Most of the country is under a beach and marine threat. The parts where evacuations are taking place are under a land and marine threat.
* Evacuation orders "not done lightly" and on basis of watching tsunamis in Indonesia and Japan, official says. "We want people to take this seriously."
* 8.1 earthquake followed 7.4 shake at 6.41am and 7.1 quake off North Island coast at 2.27am
A tsunami alert has been issued for Northland, with people on the coast urged to evacuate to higher ground or get inland after a massive earthquake north of the country.
Tsunami sirens have gone off along the coast warning people of the tsunami threat.
Hundreds of workers, students and residents are fleeing to higher ground after a third, massive Pacific earthquake this morning - and a tsunami threat that affects much of the Northland, Bay of Plenty, East Coast and upper West Coast coastlines.
Residents have been told to move immediately to higher ground after the magnitude 8.1 earthquake struck off the Kermadec Islands, 1000km northeast of New Zealand, at 8.28am (NZT). There is gridlock in cities such as Whangārei and on other roads around the affected regions.
Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management Group spokesman Murray Soljak is calling on all Northlanders along the coast to evacuate immediately and to await further instructions from authorities.
"People near the coast in the following areas must move immediately to the nearest high ground, out of all tsunami evacuation zones, or as far inland as possible. Do not stay at home," CD said.
The area under threat is the east coast of Northland from the Bay of Islands to Whangārei.
Northland Regional Council maritime manager Pete Thomas, based in Ōpua, said at 8.15am today it was pretty quiet but people were being advised to stay from harbours, rivers and estuaries while the alert was on.
"There's no time predictions on when the effects on the water will be between the Bay of Islands and Whangārei. But we'll keep a close eye."
The Kermadec quake was the second to hit around New Zealand overnight.
Whangārei mayor Sheryl Mai said this is a scary time. "If we didn't have all these methods of communication we wouldn't know the threat out there.
Whangārei District Council staff members have been evacuated. "We definitely want everyone to take this threat seriously," Mai said.
Ideally walk or cycle to avoid gridlocked. Take water and snacks with you when evacuating.
"We don't know how long this evacuation will be in force." People should stay where they are evacuated to until they here it's clear to return.
"People need to take this threat seriously, they need to get to higher ground." "This is a big deal.
"People, if they can, can pop their pets into cages and take their pets with them. By far the best info source place is civildefence.govt.nz a good place.
"I am going to take my own advice to stay calm," Mai said.
She is frustrated not being able to be with those she knows who may be at risk.
"Everybody needs to stay home if they are in a safe place. Please don't go onto the road because we want those roads clear for emergency vehicles. If still getting organised, make haste. If you have friends who are on higher ground, go and be with them."
Kaipara Mayor Dr Jason Smith says residents in low-lying coastal areas along Northland's west coast should now be evacuating.
Tsunami evacuation orders for Northland's west coast are rare. Smith said communities on west coast harbours including Hokianga and Kaipara should be evacuating now and going to higher ground.
This included Kaipara Harbour communities such as Ruawai, Kellys Bay, Tinopai and Pahi. He said west coasters were not used to having to consider such evacuations. But it was important they acted now.
A Northland Civil Defence spokesperson said (Fri 5 March 11.15am) Dargaville residents did not need to evacuate.
Smith said Dargaville was about 40 kilometres from the mouth of the Kaipara Harbour. Locals can check whether they are in a tsunami evacuation zone by entering their address at www.nrc.govt.nz/evacuationzones
Meanwhile, on Kaipara's east coast, Smith said that staff have evacuated from Kaipara District Council's (KDC)'s Mangawhai office. This office is in a tsunami evacuation zone and has been closed.
Mangawhai residents are evacuating to higher ground. "Everybody needs to remain calm and those in tsunami evacuation zones need to get to higher ground." Smith said.
Far North Mayor John Carter, who lives in Waipapakauri, on the west coast north of Kaitaia, was helping to evacuate residents.
About 80 homes from the small village had moved to the local school, he said. "I'm going round town making sure everyone is evacuating.
"I think we've got everyone out, I'm just double checking now."
Carter said he was told by a Northland Regional Council staffer who lives in the village, that the Awanui river is rising.
ADVICE FOR PEOPLE IN AREAS UNDER THREAT FROM CIVIL DEFENCE:
STAY OFF THE BEACHES AND SHORE AREAS
There is no need to evacuate other areas unless directly advised by local civil defence authorities. Coastal inundation (flooding of land areas near the shore) is not expected as a result of this event. We are advising people to:
Move out of the water, off beaches and shore areas and away from harbours, rivers and estuaries.
Do not go to the coast to watch the unusual wave activity as there may be dangerous and unpredictable surges.
Listen to local civil defence authorities and follow any instructions.
Share this information with family, neighbours and friends.
Strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges will continue for several hours and the threat must be regarded as real until this Advisory is cancelled.
This National Advisory has been issued following an assessment of information available. The situation may change as new information becomes available. Listen to the radio or TV for updates, or check www.civildefence.govt.nz
There's some tsunami advice from Civil Defence here: