Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye today opened an international workshop to train Pacific Island countries and consult on planned new Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) information products.
PTWC’s planned new information tools will be launched next year. The aim is to enable countries that currently cannot create tsunami threat models to issue more accurate warnings.
The new tools will include predicted wave heights, which are not provided in the current bulletins, as well as more localised and graphical threat information for regions of the Pacific.
"With the majority of the world’s earthquakes and tsunami occurring in the Pacific and the seas on its margins, it is very important that Pacific Island nations are prepared," Ms Kaye says. "Similarly, it is crucial that knowledge in the region is shared, to help ensure we are all as equipped as we possibly can be for response and recovery.
The workshop and consultation is being run by the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management and GNS Science. Fifteen Pacific island countries are attending, and officials from New Zealand, Australia the United States and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO will provide expert input.
"Between 2009 and 2013 we have seen several destructive and deadly tsunami in the Pacific. While we can’t prevent tsunami from happening, we can work towards improving our warning and response arrangements, to help limit the loss of lives and property that they cause.
"It is great for us to have the likes of the Director of the PTWC, Dr Charles McReery, and the Chair of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group of the Pacific Tsunami Warning System, Dr Ken Gledhill here so we can learn from them."
Participants are officials from Pacific island countries’ meteorological and national disaster management offices.
The countries attending are: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.