There are many books and websites that look at New Zealand’s geological make-up and the subsequent natural hazards.

Some good books are:

Awesome Forces

Hicks, Geoff, & Campbell, Hamish, eds. 1998. Te Papa Press, in association with EQC and GNS, Wellington.
Highly recommended for students and teachers alike, this book gives excellent background on the workings of our Earth before honing in on New Zealand and why it has such active faults and volcanoes. Each chapter deals with a specific hazard, including all the ones mentioned in this resource.

Slumbering Giants - The volcanoes and thermal regions of the central North Island

Cox, Geoffrey J. 1996. HarperCollins, New Zealand.
This book looks at the volcanoes and thermal regions of the central North Island: Taupō, Rotorua, Tarawera, and others. Includes a selected bibliography.

The Restless Country - Volcanoes and earthquakes of New Zealand

Cox, Geoffrey J. 1999. HarperCollins, New Zealand.

A great introduction to earthquakes and volcanoes (including extinct ones) in New Zealand. Includes a list for further reading.

Fountains of Fire - The story of Auckland’s volcanoes

Cox, Geoffrey J. 2000. HarperCollins, New Zealand.

Investigates the story of Auckland’s 48 volcanoes and their eruptions. Great illustrations.

Rocked and Ruptured - Geological faults in New Zealand

Aitkin, Jefley J. 1999. Reed Books, New Zealand.

Produced in association with the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences, this book is a more in-depth investigation of the known geological faults and their histories around New Zealand. There is an excellent chapter on how scientists gather information and measure the energy of earthquakes. Includes a good reference section for further reading.

The shaping of New Zealand

O’Flaherty, Brian. 2002 Reed Children’s Books, New Zealand.

This book is part of the New Zealand Wild series. It has an easy-to-read short history of the development of our planet and more specifically New Zealand. It includes the highly informative NIWA photo of New Zealand (also in the Awesome Forces exhibition at Te Papa) which shows where the tectonic plates meet.

Some good education resources are:

As Safe As Houses?


From EQC, in conjunction with Learning Media, 2000.This kit is aimed at levels 3-4 of the New Zealand Health Curriculum. It includes a booklet, video, and A4 posters.

Auckland Volcanic Hazards 

Developed by the Auckland Regional Council and GNS, with assistance from EQC.

This is excellent, colour A2 poster shows the possible effects of a new volcanic eruption on Auckland and its surrounds. It also gives information on volcanic alert levels, the probability of an eruption, as well as other hazards such as burglary, house fire, and so on.

The Science of the Taupo Volcanic Zone Te Taonga Tuku Iho i Ngatoro-i-Rangi (Kits 1 and 2)


Peters, Julia.1995 Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, New Zealand.

These kits investigate all aspects of the Taupo Volcanic Zone - the scientists that study it, specific information on Taupo, the geothermal systems and electricity, Civil Defence, and much more. 

Most New Zealand schools should have received these resources. Ask other schools in your area (primary and secondary) if they have a kit you can borrow.

Recommended websites
This is a list of pages for children on the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences site. It gives information on the latest quakes around New Zealand, alert levels of the volcanoes, and so on. You can even look at what the volcanoes are doing right this minute on Volcano Cam - see if your students can find which volcano Dino (from Flintstones) is on.
This website has been developed by EQC and shows people how they can prepare for hazards including earthquakes, tsunami, volcanic eruptions. It also tells the stories of some notable natural disasters that have occurred in our geologically volatile country and gives people a chance to test their natural disaster IQ.
This is the Earthquake Commission site. It is a useful source of background information for teachers rather than students.
This link takes you to GNS publications including books, posters, and brochures that will help you learn about New Zealand's exciting geological background. The posters are very suitable for the classroom.
Online since February 2005, this covers all you need to know about tsunamis - from how they form, to what New Zealand can expect.

Please also use your local regional council webites as they will include hazard management information for your area. They usually have excellent teacher and student resources as well. Some examples are:
The Wellington Regional Council
The Auckland Regional Council Civil Defence pages
This site looks at the make-up of the Earth, plate tectonics, and convection currents. Good for older students or for teachers as background reading.
Great experiments for the classroom! Looks at ground liquefaction, seismic waves, and so on.
This is the Global Volcanism Program site - it look at what volcanoes are doing all around the world. This particular page deals with Fijian and New Zealand volcanoes.

Awesome Forces at Te Papa

A visit to Te Papa would certainly enhance your students’ learning experience - whether self-guided or booked as one of our education programmes.

Awesome Forces
Awesome Forces is located on Level 2 and is one of Te Papa’s most popular long-term exhibitions. It shows how plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other natural forces have shaped one of the most dynamic landscapes in the world.

School programmes
This takes you to Learning @ Te Papa where teachers can find out more about education programmes that will complement their work and this resource.

Online self-guided resources
This resource is designed for teachers to use when they wish to guide their own classes on visits to Te Papa. It includes information about objects found in the exhibition Awesome Forces, such as the Earthquake House.

Tai Awatea | Knowledge Net
Tai Awatea | Knowledge Net is Te Papa’s online multimedia database. Use it from your own computer or in terminals throughout Te Papa to explore the stories, people, and themes behind treasures in Awesome Forces, as well as other current and past exhibitions.