Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs
DART Buoys Announcement
Aotea Wharf, 9.30am 11 December 2019
Acknowledgements to Minister for Civil Defence Hon Peeni Henare also here today.
It is with regret that this event shadows the tragic natural disaster two days ago.
The volcanic eruptions on White Island have claimed 5 lives, and left 31 in critical condition. A further 8 people are still missing.
A number of you here today represent those agencies working on the recovery response. We would like to acknowledge those efforts, alongside Police, Fire and Emergency NZ, the New Zealand Defence Force, health professionals, first responders, and a number of private individuals involved with this response.
Our thoughts go out to the families and friends of those affected by this event, and to those in hospital.
In the wake of tragedy, we can only reiterate the importance of this landmark moment today.
New Zealand and the broader region are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters.
We face significant tsunami risks, and the consequences of such a catastrophe has been seen before in countries such as Japan and Thailand.
It is vital for New Zealand to have adequate warning systems in place.
Just over a year ago, we learnt that New Zealand was reliant on a single, aging, US-owned DART buoy to detect whether a tsunami is generated following an earthquake.
The inadequacy of this for a region so at risk cannot be overstated.
To then learn the extent of which New Zealand was left totally unprepared and entirely jeopardised because the former government wouldn’t find the funding is shocking.
However, having learned of the appalling crisis we were facing, we realised it was essential to act right there, right then.
We have not wasted one day in getting this network ordered, provisioned and set up.
We have acquired the funding required to not only build and deploy these buoys, but to set up a 24/7 monitoring system.
DART buoys are the most accurate and time-sensitive warning equipment available worldwide. When strategically placed across key areas of the Pacific, these buoys will create a network that will have benefits beyond comprehension.
Not only for New Zealand, but also for our Pacific neighbours.
Tsunamis that hit Pacific countries not only cause death and destruction, but widespread economic devastation that can take years to recover from.
New Zealand is always the first to offer support to our Pacific partners in the wake of such natural disasters.
The DART buoy network will provide tsunami monitoring and detection information for Pacific countries, including Tokelau, Niue, the Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga as well as New Zealand.
New Zealand’s investment in this system is a very practical way we can help ourselves and our partner governments in the Pacific provide accurate tsunami warnings for coastal communities.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre will use data the buoys generate to provide timely warnings to Pacific countries.
Working in partnership with our neighbours to be more resilient to natural disasters is a manifestation of the commitment we began under the Pacific Reset.
The cost of the DART buoys network has not been met by New Zealand alone.
Australia has provided a contribution of A$2.5 million to this important system. As our closest friend and ally we are continually grateful for the support Australia gives New Zealand. We are very glad to see that this support extends to our work in the Pacific.
It is seriously welcome to see these first DART Buoys on board today, ready to take their place in the Pacific Ocean where they will work to protect the lives of both New Zealanders and of those in the wider pacific.