Castlecliff School children did not mess around when they heard a tsunami warning sound in their classrooms.

Within five minutes, all the children had made their way to the muster point at the top of Carson St for a tsunami hikoi.

Beforehand, they had practised their drop, cover and hold earthquake drill along with school staff and emergency support workers.

The hikoi, instigated by Civil Defence Emergency Management Whanganui, is one of a number of evacuation drills being practised ahead of ShakeOut, the national earthquake drill, on Thursday.


Principal Moana Twomey said everyone at Castlecliff School had been preparing for the hikoi last term and also held an evacuation practice on Monday.

"We were actually a little bit faster yesterday with a time of 4.58 seconds but today was good as well."

Civil Defence Emergency Management officer Anthony Edwards said the times were a great effort as they included the roll call.

"Whanganui is one of the first regions to roll out the tsunami hikoi in our schools and we are really pleased with how well they are doing so far."

As the Castlecliff School group gathered at their muster point at the top of Carson St, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Tupoho were practising their own hikoi and gathering at their muster point across the way in Lee St.

"We carried out hikoi at Putiki yesterday [Monday] with the kindy, kura and kohanga reo and those went smoothly as well.

"Everyone has done great work in supporting the hikoi."

Māori Wardens, Red Cross, fire and police personnel have been supporting school staff in carrying out the exercises and Mayor Hamish McDouall also joined the Castlecliff group.


He congratulated the children on how quickly they got to the highest point near their school and told them it could save their lives.

"There was a tsunami in Kumaishi in Japan and two children out of 1000 at the school died but the others all got away safely because they knew what to do and they ran for the highest point."

McDouall said he was also impressed with how well the children carried out their drop, cover and hold earthquake drill.

After the hikoi, the Rapid Relief team rewarded everyone with a barbecued sausage and bread for their efforts.

Akeelah Andrew, 10, said she understood the importance of the exercise.

"If there is a threat of a tsunami, you need to get to higher ground."

Glory-Jade Te Awhe, 9, said, "We need to do it so we don't get swept away."

And Layla-Carly Edgecombe Waitokia, 6, said, "We need to be safe from a tsunami and when there's an earthquake you should get under a table."

All schools, tertiary institutions and workplaces are encouraged to join the New Zealand ShakeOut 2019 on Thursday.

ShakeOut is held across the world to remind people of the right action to take during earthquakes and tsunami.