March 5, 2021, 6:40 p.m.
Whānau from Ōpononi, Ōmāpere, Waiwhawhata and Waimamaku sought refuge on Pakia Hill when low-lying, coastal communities were told to evacuate this morning following the 8.1 magnitude earthquake in the Kermadecs.
Tsunami sirens sounded across town and local volunteers, including Maria Barnes, helped notify kaumātua and get whānau to safety. Water and food were provided to elders and a medication run arranged to ensure kaumātua needs were met during evacuation.
Among those waiting out the evacuation period atop Pakia was a local kuia from Pākanae, Lee Hemara. She says tidal waves are not foreign to those from Hokianga, in fact, they’re a main feature in their origin stories.
According to Hemara, her tupuna Kupe was led to Hokianga by three tidal waves named Ngaru-nui, Ngaru-roa and Ngaru-paewhenua. This story was supported by kuia Riria Materoa Dunn who spent much of the 4-hour evacuation talking with members of the community about local mountains and their names.
For more on this story, watch the video above.