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Source: Earthquake Commission – EQC

Over half a million Kiwis in offices and schools around the country dived under their desks this morning as part of New Zealand ShakeOut to prepare for a possible earthquake.

ShakeOut a national initiative, by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and co-sponsored by the Earthquake Commission (EQC), aimed at reminding New Zealanders what to do during an earthquake and tsunami.

Among those participating, Oamaru students from St Joseph’s School set an example of how to respond in an earthquake practising their Drop, Cover, and Hold actions as part of an earthquake drill.

Because their school is located just 200m from the shoreline, they also practised their tsunami hikoi (evacuation). 

NEMA Chief Executive Dave Gawn says by practising ShakeOut every year, learning the correct actions to take in an earthquake or tsunami will become second nature.

“All of Aotearoa can use ShakeOut to practise what to do in an earthquake and tsunami. It’s also a good opportunity to make an emergency plan and check your supplies.”

Otago was picked as the venue of the exercise this year as it is sometimes seen as a ‘quieter’ area for earthquakes, but in fact the region has a number of active fault lines, much like most of New Zealand, and is also at risk of damage from any larger Alpine Fault event. 

EQC Chief Resilience and Research Officer, Dr Jo Horrocks says that her team are working hard to minimise the impact of future natural hazards on communities.

“Our beautiful land is one of the highest-risk countries in the world for a range of natural hazards, but there is a lot we can all do to prepare for them,” says Dr Horrocks, who witnessed the students at St Joseph’s School lead the way and thanked the thousands of Kiwis who had signed up for ShakeOut.

“Taking a bit of time to think about how hazards could affect us at home, work or school, and then taking steps to prepare – these are things that will make a big difference in a disaster.” 

St Joseph’s School principal Lorraine Frances-Rees was proud her school could be the focus of this year’s ShakeOut.

“I was a principal in Ashburton during the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes and that experience has taught me that you always need to think ahead and be prepared for every eventuality. We take all our safety drills seriously and our children are really good at them. They wouldn’t panic in a real emergency because they know what to do,” Lorrain says.

Earthquakes in Canterbury and Kaikōura, and more recently in Melbourne, show that significant quakes can occur anywhere. 

In 1974, a magnitude 5 earthquake struck offshore from Dunedin resulted in EQC receiving 3000 claims from homeowners at the time.

New Zealand ShakeOut 2021 is coordinated by the NEMA and the EQC, along with local and central government organisations, emergency and lifeline services and the private sector. 


EQC media contact:
Coen Lammers | 021 730239

NEMA media contact:
Andy Hammond-Tooke | 027 577 2564