Apologies after Northland’s tsunami siren system set off accidentally

By Mike Dinsdale

Northpower has apologised to people in the Kaipara and Whangārei Districts after a technical issue in its control systems caused the coastal tsunami sirens to activate last night.

The sirens went off from 8.21pm to 8.24pm last night.

The false alarm comes after the tsunami siren network was sounded for real when an tsunami evacuation order was issued for Northland on March 5 after the massive 87.1 magnitude earthquake at the Kermadecs.

That alert saw tens of thousands of Northlanders, including around 15,000 from the Whangārei central city, to evacuate to higher ground.

Last night hundreds of people got ready to evacuate before receiving notification that it was a false alarm.

Josie Boyd, General Manager of the Northpower electricity network, said she is acutely aware of how a false alarm like this so close to the March 5 tsunami warning in Northland would have caused a high level of anxiety for the community.

“We apologise to all those affected and are investigating the cause of the issue to ensure that this does not happen again,” Boyd said.

The Northern Advocate received several angry calls and emails about the false alarm last night, with one reader calling for heads to roll.

The woman, from Waipū, said she was furious at whoever pushed the button to set he alarms off.

”It caused a lot of stress in many households. Next time we won’t be running and that is not appropriate. Civil defence need to sort this problem out, and fast. Very disappointing.

”And asfor the use of facebook to let us know, “it was a fault,” did you ever consider that many elderly folk do not have computers?”

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