Work starts on 24/7 hazard warning centre

  • 23/12/2016
earthquake seismograph monitor
Geonet scientists have spoken out about needing a 24/7 service (File)

Work has started on a 24/7 hazard warning system with the government saying early, accurate information about earthquakes and tsunamis is an important priority.

It has put up an initial $3 million to enhance Geonet's monitoring and response systems.

Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says "opportunities" have been identified since the November 14 Kaikoura earthquake.

"It's important we have the ability to get warnings about potential emergencies out to New Zealanders as quickly as possible to enable them to take appropriate action," he said.

"Work is already underway, led by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, on scoping a 24/7 warning centre that would involve multiple agencies monitoring a range of hazards.

The hazards are earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.

There was confusion over tsunami warnings after the Kaikoura quake and friction between Mr Brownlee and Geonet when one of its scientists, Ken Gledhill, spoke about the need for a 24/7 service.

Dr Gledhill subsequently confirmed no approach had been made to the government for more funding.

Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith has looked at Geonet's actions after the Kaikoura quake and says it responded within three minutes.

"It immediately stood up a response team that delivered advice not only to officials but to the New Zealand public through its website, app and social media channels," he said.

"Early, accurate information is important for public safety and emergency response, so the government is investing to strengthen Geonet's ability to provide immediate and comprehensive information on earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions."