Natural Hazards

, Volume 71, Issue 1, pp 973–986 | Cite as

Tsunami risk perception and preparedness on the east coast of New Zealand during the 2009 Samoan Tsunami warning

  • Mieke Couling
Original Paper


Several coastal communities on the North Island of New Zealand were evacuated during the 2009 Samoan Tsunami warning. This study aimed to explore the risk perception and preparedness levels of a small cohort of people living in an at-risk area. Qualitative data were collected using semi-structured interviews from fifteen residents evacuated from the town of Pauanui on the Coromandel Peninsula. Thematic content analysis showed common themes and gaps where emergency management systems were deficient. This study found that participants had inaccurate risk perception, a high reliance on warning systems, low levels of preparedness and lacked knowledge about natural warning signs of tsunamis. The themes identified are useful indicators of where current systems are failing people but need to be expanded to generalise results. The event, on which this study is based, provided a unique opportunity to explore people’s reactions to a predicted tsunami. The study confirmed the findings of prior studies that people in at-risk places are not necessarily well informed or prepared. The paper contributes further knowledge to inform the advance of public education and community engagement with respect to tsunami preparedness.


Tsunami Risk perception Public education Preparedness Evacuation New Zealand 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Paramedicine and Emergency ManagementAUT UniversityAucklandNew Zealand

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