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  • Meet geologists James Goff and Scott Nichol as they investigate how ocean pebbles ended up on clifftops in Northland. What was it that caused the sudden change in the landscape?

    Rights: Crown copyright 2014

    Connected article: The tsunami that washed time away

    An article in the 2014 level 3 Connected journal ‘Why is that?’ published by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand.

    Background photograph © S. Nichol and inset map of New Zealand showing Henderson Bay © Di Fuller.

    There is evidence of tsunamis in Māori pūrākau – the stories that have been passed down by Māori through generations. Support for the idea that a tsunami had occurred was also found in archaeological evidence and evidence from soil samples.

    Check your school resource area for the article from the 2014 level 3 Connected journal ‘Why is that?’, download it as Google slides from Tāhūrangi with the text and images from the article or order it from the Ministry of Education.

    Rights: Crown copyright 2014

    2014 Connected level 3: Why is that?

    The cover of the 2014 level 3 Connected journal ‘Why is that?’ published by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand. This issue includes the articles Rising seas, Counting kākahi and The tsunami that washed time away.

    Background photograph 'Restore the Shore' by Hypnotica Studios Infinite, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

    The teacher support material (TSM) can be downloaded from Tāhūrangi (Word and PDF files available). These focus on the science capability ‘Using evidence’. Activity suggestions support students to understand tsunamis, why fossils help us to understand our past and the usefulness of different sources of evidence. Literacy strategies are also suggested, and additional resource links are provided.

    Rights: S. Nichol, Crown copyright 2014

    Middens in Henderson

    Henderson’s middens feature in the 2014 Connected article ‘The tsunami that washed time away’.

    Related content

    The hub has many resources on tsunamis and related science concepts like waves. Go to the Tsunamis and surf – introduction for an overview.

    Find out about the similarities and differences between tsunamis and surf waves, and learn how ocean waves are studied in New Zealand, how early Māori used ocean waves as a guide to navigate across the Pacific, and why you should never try to surf a tsunami.

    Check out our entire range of Connected articles here. We’ve curated them by topic and concepts.

    Student activities

    Use an interactive or paper-based Venn diagram to illustrate the key similarities and differences between tsunami waves and surf waves.

    The activity Wave tank modelling uses a shallow tray of water to demonstrate wave generation and behaviour.

    Useful links

    The 2012 School Journal article ‘The hungry wave’ is based on factual accounts from survivors of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Tonga and Samoa in 2009. The TSM has detailed suggestions for supporting level 3 reading and writing.

    Find out more about the 1868 Arica tsunami that hit the Chatham Islands in this Geonet article.

    Listen to this Radio New Zealand podcast to find out how Māori oral histories are helping scientists evaluate future tsunami risks.

    The Connected journals can be ordered from the Down the Back of the Chair website. Please note that access to these resources is restricted to Ministry-approved education providers. To find out if you are eligible for a login or if you have forgotten your login details, contact their customer services team on 0800 660 662 or email


    The Connected series is published annually by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand.

      Published 20 December 2018 Referencing Hub articles
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