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Tsunami: Lessons from the Chathams

Discover how tsunami in the Chatham Islands are important for all of Aotearoa.

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About this trip

In 1868 a magnitude 8.5-9.5 earthquake struck off the coast of Northern Chile causing a tsunami that moved across the Pacific Ocean and hit Rēkohu Wharekauri the Chatham Islands about 15 hours later. The waves caused significant damage and lives were lost. Over the next few hours and into the following day large waves continued to crash into other parts of Aotearoa, from Mangonui in the north to Bluff in the south.

The Chathams are likely to be the first place in New Zealand to be struck by tsunami events generated from earthquakes in the South American subduction zone. This subduction zone is one of the most frequent sources of tsunami for Aotearoa. Research of historic events like the 1868 tsunami and a monitoring and detection network in the Pacific Ocean can help us to gain a better understanding of tsunami risk in Aotearoa and how we can prepare for possible future events.

Travel online to Chatham Islands to:

  • discover more about the geological history of these islands and their link to the rest of Aotearoa.
  • see how tsunami are measured and monitored on the Chathams.
  • explore the impacts of past tsunami in the Chathams and how these events can help us to prepare for future tsunami in other parts of Aotearoa.

This online field trip supports a STEAM-based, cross curricular approach to teaching and learning. Participation encourages curiosity, citizen-science and student inquiry. Access the glossary.


Teacher resources

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

United Nations SDG 11This trip reflects the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Toka Tū Ake EQC.