Waikato stirred, but not shaken

Last updated 05:00 23/07/2013

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One in five Waikato residents live on ground prone to movement in an earthquake.

But many are still woefully unprepared for a disaster, even after an earthquake swarm crippled the capital over the weekend.

Wellingtonians were today expected to return to work after a day of building inspections and clean-up following Sunday night's magnitude 6.5 earthquake.

The quake was centred in the Cook Strait, at a depth of 17km and shook the majority of the country, including much of the Waikato region.

Hundreds of aftershocks kept the Marlborough and Wellington regions shaking yesterday.

GNS scientist Dr Ken Gledhill said the probability of a magnitude 6 or bigger earthquake in the next day had dropped down from 7 per cent and the chances of a big quake happening in next week was down to 19 per cent.

But Waikato Regional Council regional hazards manager Adam Munro, said believing Hamilton and the Waikato weren't at risk of natural disaster was "not common sense".

Council and GNS data shows many of the region's major towns are built on soils which are prone to movement during a quake, with a belt stretching from Te Kuiti to Huntly and including Hamilton among the most affected.

About 20 per cent of the region's population live on soils that are likely to move during a quake and

Mr Munro said residents needed to be prepared. "Yes, Hamilton has a pretty good record as far as no earthquakes, but in this sort of business there are no guarantees," he said.

"The key message is that anywhere in NZ can be affected by a natural hazard. The Wellington earthquake has been a reminder that we all are potentially vulnerable."

Hamilton is essentially surrounded by faults at Port Waikato, the Kerepehi fault which runs down the Hauraki Plains, and the Taupo faults.

Those are just the ones on the surface that we know about.

"I'm sure you wouldn't find any scientist who would say Hamilton's completely safe. It's more NZ is a country that straddles two tectonic plates and we are quite young geologically and an earthquake could strike anywhere and any time," Mr Munro said. "Wherever we live we need to be aware of the hazards that could affect us."

A former Hamilton resident who now lives in Wellington said the experience was quite frightening.

Ellen Rogers, 22, said that while the only quake damage she had was a few things falling off shelves, she was "shaken" by the quake.

"I was quite shaken and in a bit of shock - no pun intended - because I had just left work on Cuba St and was walking down Manners Mall, so outside amongst lots of high buildings," she said.

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- Waikato Times

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