Category : News
Author: Mark Longley & William Hewett

New Zealand is facing a number of maritime issues on Sunday with the National Emergency Management Agency saying coastal areas on the north and east coast of the North Island and the Chatham Islands may experience strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore.

The activity has been caused by the eruption at 4:10am (local time) of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai underwater volcano, located about 65km north of Nuku'alofa, caused a 1.2-metre tsunami.

Tsunami waves of 83cm were observed by gauges at the Tongan capital of Nuku’alofa and waves of 2 ft at Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said.

Cyclone Cody is also expected to reach New Zealand later today and could cause dangerous coastal conditions, particularly for Gisborne and the East Cape. 

Latest reports Cody is unlikely to make landfall as it moves further east meaning most of the country will escape the full effects, although there is likely to be strong wind and rain. 


What you need to know 


  • Tsunami warnings have been triggered for several South Pacific island nations including New Zealand after an underwater volcano off Tonga erupted on Saturday
  • Kiwis are being advised to stay out of the water due to strong currents and coastal surges. 
  • NEMA says there could be dangerous marine conditions  in the coastal areas on the north and east coast of the North Island and the Chatham Islands
  • Power is still out in much off Tonga after the eruption and subsequent tsunami that hit the small kingdom 


3:44pm - The press conference has now eneded. 

3:41pm - The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Nanaia Mahuta has released a statement saying "New Zealand stands ready to assist the people of Tonga". 

She said the thoughts of New Zealanders are with the people of Tonga following Saturday's undersea volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami.


"Damage assessments are under way and New Zealand has formally offered to provide assistance to Tonga," said Mahuta.

New Zealand has made an initial $500,000 available to respond to requests from the Government of Tonga as they come in. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, NZDF and other New Zealand agencies are working through air and sea options to provide assistance to Tonga.

A New Zealand Defence Force P3 Orion is on standby to provide aerial surveillance and support the Government of Tonga gain visibility of the impact on the outer islands, as soon as atmospheric conditions allow.

"As yet there are no official reports of injuries or deaths. However, communications are limited," Mahuta said.

"The ew Zealand High Commission in Nuku'alofa is monitoring the situation closely and is in contact with local authorities.

"Anyone in the affected area should follow the advice of the local authorities, including any tsunami evacuation orders, and try to contact their family back in New Zealand.

"Communications links with Tonga have been disrupted so New Zealanders may have difficulties contacting their whānau in Tonga at this time. Authorities are working as quickly as possible to re-establish communication links."

New Zealanders in Tonga should stay informed of developments by monitoring local media. 

3:36pm - Ardern is now speaking about storm surges in New Zealand. She is urging people to follow NEMA's precautions that have been released on Saturday and Sunday. 

She asked people to follow those rules and stay away from the water. 

3:34pm - William Sio is now speaking and he said there is "overwhelming concern" but said his message was to be patient and to remain calm. 


He said it was too early and he urged people to allow government organisations to determine the damage and what is required in Tonga.

3:30pm - Ardern said the images and videos from the eruption on Saturday brought home the scale and the violence of that eruption. 

She said how close the eruption was to Tonga caused everyone to be immediately very concerned for friends and family.

3:26pm - Logistics teams, engineers and medics which is normally deployed in the first instance in naval ships, Henare said.  

Henare said they are taking all the measures possible to keep the people of tonga safe from COVID-19. 

3:21pm - Ardern is back speaking saying they want to be in Tonga as soon as possible. 

She said they are preparing ships to travel "as we speak".

Ardern said the focus has been on Tonga and no other reports suggest that no other places in the Pacific require support. 

3:20pm - Henare is now talking about the reconnaissance flight and said is looking to help in any way it can. 

They said the flight when deployed will have all the necessary goods the Tonga people will need. 

If the flight was not possible because it was not safe, the NZ navy would be ready to deploy. 

3:18pm - The top of the ash cloud is estimated to be at 63,000 feet, higher than an NZ aircraft would be able to fly, Ardern said. 


3:16pm - Sio is now speaking about communications. He said the King of Tonga is well and fine.

3:13pm - Ardern is now taking questions. 

Ardern said that power has been restored to some of Nuku'alofa, and local mobile phones are working.  

Ardern said the Government is currently receiving reports from the NZ High Commission and they don't have reports from coastal areas. 

Ardern said there is a clear identification from Tonga they need a supply of water. 

3:11pm - The Government of Tonga has accepted an offer of assistance from New Zealand of NZDF survivance flight. 

A NZDF P3 Orion aircraft is ready to go on Monday morning, subject to conditions including ashfall, Ardern said.

The Government is looking at deploying a navy vessel but they are waiting for an assessment from Tonga. 

But Ardern said it is currently not safe for that flight to travel. 

Ardern said Government has approved half a million dollars to help respond to any request for assistance from Tongan authorities.  

3:07pm - Ardern said the main undersea communications cable has been impacted, likely due to a loss of power.

The Government has approved half a million for support of Tonga. 

3:04pm - The Prime Minister and ministers Henare and Sio have made their way into the room. 

Ardern is speaking.

Ardern says the Government has been urgently trying to get information from the Pacific

She said there are no official reports of deaths or injuries. 

She said there is 30 New Zealanders in Tonga all have been reported safe. 

Offical damage assessments are not available yet but communications are limited due to damage. 

2:58pm - We are just moments away from the PM's press conference. Stay here for all the updates. 

2:52pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will hold a press conference at 3pm in Auckland about the ongoing situation in Tonga. 

The Prime Minister will be joined by Minister of Defence Peeni Henare and Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio. 

You can watch the press conference live in the video above and here. 

2:30pm - Gisborne District Council is reminding people to keep out and away from the water as the region prepares for Cyclone Cody, which will likely hit on Monday. 

Civil Defence emergency manager Ben Green said they are still expecting "hazardous weather" even though forecasts have shown the cyclone is tracking east. 

"Significant and hazardous waves are expected tomorrow (Monday) with the potential for dangerous rip currents inshore and unpredictable surges," Green said. "This means it is not safe for people to be in the water at this time and we urge them to stay on land."

Council's principal scientist Dr Murry Cave said while the tsunami surges in Gisborne have not been as significant as Northland, there are still strong currents with overall water levels already higher than normal due to storm surge from Cyclone Cody.

"The tsunami surges have not affected any coastal properties but some scouring of sand dunes at the top of beaches was observed today and a lot of seaweed pushed up towards the top of beaches between Pouawa and the city beaches," Dr Cave said.

"Rocks with gooseneck barnacles attached were thrown up among the seaweeds at Wainui Beach.

"High tide at 5.30pm is the critical time with possible tsunami currents and storm surge from Cody building with three-metre plus swells on top of the tide. 

"Big swells are expected overnight and the high tide early on Monday morning is when the storm surge is likely to be five to six metres on top of the tide."

2:20pm - Facebook photos have shown more damage at the Tutukaka Marina in Whangārei.

The photos show structural damage to boats and the marina. 

1:58pm - Fiji Airways has announced flights departing and arriving in Nadi and Suva have been cancelled or rescheduled due to the ash clouds caused by the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcanic eruption.

They said "safety remains paramount" for the airline and has cancelled around 13 flights. 

1:38pm - Surf Life Saving Australia has announced they have cancelled the Iron Man and Woman series event in Bondi due to current beach closures and tsunami warnings in place in New South Wales.

"Based on the advice received from the NSW State Emergency Service (SES), Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and Surf Life Saving NSW, along with the closure of beaches along the east coast of Australia, SLSA has made the decision to cancel today's event," they said.

"Round three of the Nutri-Grain IronMan & IronWoman Series is postponed with the date and details to be confirmed."

1:18pm - Newshub has received photos showing damage to the Tutukaka Marina in Whangarei. 

The damage was caused by a tsunami surge that hit the marina at about 9.30pm on Saturday. 

The photos show boats submerged underwater, damage to vessels and damage to the structure in the marine. 

Tutukaka Marina
Tutukaka Marina Photo credit: Supplied/ Aaron Dyer
Damage to a boat in Tutukaka Marina.
Damage to a boat in Tutukaka Marina.
Live: Tsunami warning after volcanic eruption in Tonga, Cyclone Cody approaching
Photo credit: Supplied/ Aaron Dyer
Live: Tsunami warning after volcanic eruption in Tonga, Cyclone Cody approaching
Photo credit: Supplied/ Aaron Dyer

1:02pm - NEMA is urging anyone in coastal areas of New Zealand to take "extra care" on Sunday. 

NEMA posted on Twitter that said Cyclone Cody and the Tsunami in Tonga may cause "rough conditions".

"If you are in a coastal area of New Zealand today take extra care. 

"Both the tsunami from the eruption in Tonga and Tropical Cyclone Cody are affecting New Zealand seas. 

"Coasts may experience rough conditions. Check info from local authorities and don't take any chances."

Article: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2022/01/live-tsunami-warning-after-volcanic-eruption-in-tonga-cyclone-cody-approaching.html
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