Is New Zealand prepared for a volcano eruption?

A Volcano data specialist says we have professionals in New Zealand who will lead evacuation and recovery processes if a volcano was to erupt.

19th January, 2022

Is New Zealand prepared for a volcano eruption?

Levi Matautia-Morgan - levi.morgan@pmn.co.nz

A volcano data specialist says we have professionals in New Zealand who will lead evacuation and recovery processes if a volcano was to erupt.

New Zealand has 12 active volcanoes which are monitored by Kiwi scientists. Whakaari/White Island is the largest volcano by volume and its last eruption just over three years ago claimed 22 lives.

Volcano Data Specialist Steven Sherburn says New Zealand has processes in place that come into effect if an eruption were to take place.

"The National Emergency Management office in Wellington and our Local Civil Defence organisations, they do understand these things and they do listen to what GNS Science tells them about volcanic activities.

“They do prepare and they put plans in place for your local communities."

Photo/Steven Sherburn

Sherburn works with GNS Science which carries out earth, geoscience and isotope research. He visited the erupted volcano in Tonga in 2015 to research the Volcano.

He says there are volcanos in New Zealand that are much bigger than Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai and New Zealand has many volcanos which are all different sizes compared to Tonga.

"The problem is we have different kinds of volcanos here. We have a volcano sort of like Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai and maybe that's sort of a big volcano like Ruapehu.

“We then have volcanos that are actually a lot bigger than that and Lake Taupo would be an example."

Despite the amount of active volcanos, Sherburn trusts the processes New Zealand has in place if an unforeseen circumstance were to happen.