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Whitebaiters ignore tsunami warnings

September 17, 2015 6:05 pm

Tsunami warnings are still in place for parts of New Zealand after Chile’s huge earthquake, but that didn’t stop some whitebaiters from getting into the water at dawn this morning.

The Chathams have had water surges of up to half a metre, and Gisborne and other areas on the east coasts have recorded up to 30 centimetres, following the magntiude 8.3 quake that hit off the coast of Chile yesterday.

The most recent warning from the Tsunami Experts Panel said it expected some late arriving waves reflected from Pacific Islands ,which should bed be arriving over the next few hours. In the February 2010 tsunami these were the largest waves recorded.

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These waves are not expected to be larger than the range provided in the threat level map.

A Civil Defence panel of experts is still considering whether to lift tsunami warnings for the east coast of New Zealand and the Chatham Islands.

Civil Defence says it’s pleased with the response to last night’s national alerts, saying most people took the warnings of higher than usual waves seriously.

Low level ocean surges were reported early this morning on the Chathams, and beaches in Gisborne and Northland.

Civil Defence director Sarah Stuart-Black told Morning Report today the tsunami was what they expected.

“We’re seeing changes in tidal and coastal patterns, which is what we have seen in past instances of tsunami, and also what the science advice gave us yesterday.”

Civil Defence said they were generally pleased that the public had listened to the warning and stayed away from the shorefront, but some whitebaiters at the mouth of Canterbury’s Waimakariri River this morning ignored the warnings.

About fifteen people were seen by Radio New Zealand moving about in the river, many up to their waists.

But whitebaiter Dawn Sullivan said she was not worried.

“It’s a bit unpredictable today. I didn’t know whether to come or not, and I thought, well, if it’s a big wave, I’ll just hang onto the rocks, and the main thing is to get your waders off.”

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