New Zealand Tsunami Database: Historical and Modern Records
Welcome to the New Zealand Tsunami Database. Here you will find information about tsunamis that have reached the coastline of New Zealand since humans arrived in this land until the present day. The database is the work of historical seismologist Gaye Downes of GNS Science who collected reports of tsunamis around New Zealand and, in many cases, carried out research to determine parameters of the source, travel time and impact associated with each event. Reports of tsunamis that make up the core of this database come from tide gauges, newspaper articles, harbour masters, records from ships, personal diary entries and Māori oral records. This primary source material is summarised in the database and complete transcriptions are held by the database custodian.
The purpose of creating a publicly available tsunami database is to increase awareness of New Zealand's tsunami hazard, provide evidence to inform coastal planning, enable calibration of tsunami modelling, hazard estimates and forecasting, and promote further research. New Zealand lies in the path of tsunamis generated from around the Pacific Rim (Figure 1) as well as from sources closer to home associated with the active Pacific-Australian Plate Boundary. In addition, this country has a long length of coastline in comparison to its land area and much of the population live near the coast. Therefore, learning about our tsunami hazard and how to mitigate risk is a high priority. Future plans for the online presentation of the database are outlined in FAQ.
Figure 1 Yellow dots show the distant sources where tsunamis were generated that reached New Zealand between 1835 and 2011 (each dot represents the approximate location of a source event not an accurate epicentre). All events were earthquakes, except Krakatau, which was a volcanic eruption.
The New Zealand Tsunami Database is not intended to be complete - the comparatively short period of human occupation, very short period of written records (<200 years), and sparse population impedes any such attempt. The database is subject to change as new information arises about old events and new interpretations are developed. Modern tsunamis will also be added to the database. GNS Science has made every reasonable effort to ensure the information provided here is correct. However, GNS Science makes no warranties or representations as to its accuracy or completeness and shall not be liable for any injury or death, or for damages of any kind arising out of access to, or use of the information, or any errors, omissions, misprints, or out-of-date information.