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Hikurangi Response Plan

Project Period: July 2018 - June 2021

Project Funders: Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management

Organisations: Bay of Plenty, Tairāwhiti, Hawke's Bay, Manawatu/Wanganui & Wellington Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups, Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management & East Coast LAB

Project Location: North Island's East Coast

Planning for a rupture of New Zealand’s largest fault, the Hikurangi subduction zone, has kicked into motion, with scientists certain it’s a case of when, not if.

We know the Hikurangi subduction zone can produce large earthquakes and tsunamis, and these events have occurred in the past. This knowledge, combined with current research suggesting there is a greater likelihood of a rupture following the Kaikoura/Hurunui earthquake in 2016, and increased pressure building on the fault is the driving force behind this project. 

Emergency managers, scientists, and key stakeholders will work together to develop the Hikurangi Response Plan. This will outline how to respond to a Hikurangi subduction zone earthquake, and how to enhance communities’ earthquake and tsunami preparedness.

Using a credible magnitude 8.9 earthquake and tsunami scenario, Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Groups from across the North Island East Coast are working together to develop an emergency response plan that has communities at its heart.

Scenario-based planning is a common approach used by emergency planners when writing response plans. It's important to note however that the magnitude 8.9 scenario, whilst scientifically credible, is one of many possibilities- scientists cannot predict when or how any real event will occur.

The project led by East Coast Life at the Boundary will involve:

  1. Developing, exercising and refining a Civil Defence Emergency Management response plan, titled Hikurangi Response Plan (HRP), to improve preparedness and resilience to such an event. 
  2. Determining the impacts and implications of such an event for the most ‘at risk’ communities on the North Island East Coast, as well as New Zealand as a whole. 

Communities are at the centre of all response planning, and we want this project to be a collaborative effort. We are all responsible for ourselves and our families – we are all part of Civil Defence in New Zealand. For information on how to prepare for an earthquake or tsunami, visit 



Got a question? Check out the Hikurangi Response Plan FAQs


The Hikurangi Response Plan is based on a credible magnitude 8.9 earthquake and tsunami scenario. Want to know more? The GNS Science credible scenario report can be found here.

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