The man who "predicted" the 7.8 magnitude Kaikoura earthquake insists he has "nothing to apologise for", despite warning about an earthquake on December 13 that added to the anxiety of Gisborne residents in the midst of Monday's massive blackout.
There was panic-buying at petrol stations and supermarkets in Gisborne on Monday during the city-wide power outage, which lasted 33 hours and was caused when a top-dressing plane crashed into high voltage powerlines, killing both crew members including Farmers Air pilot George Anderson.
Adele Maynard, one of those who queued for hours at a Gisborne petrol station for supplies on Monday, told the Herald she believed that an earthquake warning had been "put out", referring to the Facebook post by Central Hawke's Bay man Nigel Gray about an earthquake in the East Cape the next day on December 13.
Ashley Wawatai, who was also waiting in line for fuel, said Gray had caused "quite a stir-up" on Facebook because he had predicted the Kaikoura earthquake "so now he's given us a warning".
"After this outage, I think people are getting a bit scared and preparing for everything."
But speaking from his Takapau, Hawke's Bay, home on Wednesday, Gray, a 55-year-old painter and decorator, said his post was only meant to act as warning and was not intended to incite fear or panic.
"I know a few people have criticised what I've said about Gisborne and accused me of scaremongering, or something like that, but I don't think I have anything to apologise for, because there's been so many people thank me from Gisborne for saving the day for them when the power cut happened - they were prepared," he said.
Eight days before the Kaikoura quake, he posted a "heads up" on his Weather Modification Watch New Zealand Facebook page that people stock up on supplies as a major earthquake was quite possible in the South Pacific on November 14, or "a few days either side," due to the increased gravitational pull of the supermoon.
After being picked up by overseas media outlets such as the Daily Mail, it was liked more than 8000 times within 24 hours of the earthquake, was shared more than 6000 times, and his name was searched for on Facebook 37,000 times.
He said his page had 600 followers before the November 14 quake, but by the next day that had risen to 6000. As of this week, his page had amassed 30,000 followers.
His Facebook page aims to "expose" the existence of geo-engineering - 'man-made weather' - and the use of the weather as a weapon by unnamed governments and corporations for their own gain.
He said the basis for his post predicting the "man-made" earthquake on December 13 was because of the presence of a full moon, backed by the "suspicious" timing of John Key's resignation as PM, to take effect on December 12.
"I am actually pleased it [the Dec 13 earthquake] hasn't happened, of course. But the likelihood of something happening is still very high according to even the Government," he said, referring to a GNS Science blog on Monday, which said the chance of a massive earthquake under central New Zealand, as large as or larger than the magnitude 7.8 Kaikoura earthquake, had risen, however, it still remained "very unlikely".
GNS' science seismologist Dr John Ristau said the Government earthquake experts produced forecasts around a range of probabilities and that it was not possible to predict earthquakes.
"No one has successfully predicted an earthquake and many have tried."
Ristau said it was always worth being prepared but cautioned people against being unreasonably alarmed about earthquake predictions spread online.