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Educational Roadshow for Schools - The Secrets of the Hikurangi Subduction Zones

National Aquarium of New Zealand educator, Jacque Wilton, tells us about her recent roadshow to schools along the east coast of the North Island.  From Tokomaru Bay to Wellington, she talks about earthquakes and tsunamis.


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Jacque with students from Napier Intermediate School

Over three weeks during April to June 2021, I had the opportunity to visit various schools along the east coast of the North Island, from Tokomaru Bay in the north to Wellington in the south, to talk about the ‘Secrets of the Hikurangi Subduction Zone’ – in other words…I was talking about earthquakes and tsunamis. As an educator, I get to do a lot of weird and wonderful things during my day-to-day job. This was one of those times.

The National Aquarium of New Zealand education team was approached by the East Coast LAB to help get the message out to members of the community on how to be prepared for a natural hazard scientists know will happen one day.

I visited 10 different schools and worked with close to 800 students to help them learn more about the Hikurangi subduction zone, slow slip events, earthquakes and tsunami, and the relevance of these hazards to them and their community.

New Zealand experiences over 20,000 earthquakes every year, of which we feel around only 250. Scientists are certain that it is not a matter of if, but when, the next large earthquake and tsunami will occur along the Hikurangi subduction zone. The Hikurangi subduction zone lies off the East Coast of the North Island of New Zealand and is where the Pacific tectonic plate dives beneath the Australian tectonic plate.

We need to know how to be prepared to survive.

During the roadshow, I had the chance to see some of the amazing scenery New Zealand has while travelling to be with the groups.

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Historic bridge in Tolaga Bay with traveling companion, Jesse.

The feedback from the teachers and students was very positive. Especially the reinforcement of the slogans ‘Drop Cover and Hold’ and ‘Long or strong, get gone’.

Taking part in the East Coast LAB roadshow was a fantastic opportunity to see our country and share the knowledge of how to prepare for these events.

We all need to have our survival kits and get away bags ready to go. The natural signs of an earthquake lasting longer than 60 seconds or so strong you can’t stand up in means a tsunami could be on its way. If you are close to the coast, head to higher ground immediately.


Keen to know more?  Visit East Coast Lab to find out more about the science behind the Hikurangi Subduction Zone, the 'Get Ready' website on how to be prepared and our education section for more information on our education programmes for school groups to participate in.

27 August 2021

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