When Abby Wutzler noticed the ocean retreating she ran along the beach in the village of Lalomanu, yelling to people get to higher ground. The brave school girl had just studied tsunamis in class.
Presenter: Kerri Ritchie, New Zealand correspondant
Speaker: Abby Wutzler, New Zealand schoolgirl; John Hamilton, Civil Defence Director; Vicky Wutzler, mother
KERRI RITCHIE: Abby Wutzler has a new nickname at her school in Wellington. Her friends call her TAG which stands for Tsunami Alert Girl. The 10 year old was holidaying with her parents and brother at the village of Lalomanu, when she noticed that the water was being sucked out to sea. She knew exactly what was happening.
ABBY WUTZLER: My brother I think started to go up the hill, I went across the beach because my mum and dad were at the other side of the beach and I just ran across shouting "the water is going out, tsunami" and yeah, a few people looked out and saw this big wall of water rising so they got away.
KERRI RITCHIE: But she had to convince her dad that she wasn't being dramatic.
ABBY WUTZLER: It took a bit of explaining, but he sort of got up and came with me but I don't think he was fast enough because he ended up in the water.
KERRI RITCHIE: Abby Wutzler was officially recognised by the New Zealand Government today. Civil defence director John Hamilton presented her with a certificate and gave her a book on natural disasters.
JOHN HAMILTON: I think you did a fantastic job and I think we all owe you a big round of applause.
(Sound of clapping)
KERRI RITCHIE: Then it was time to answer her classmate's questions and there were plenty of them.
STUDENT: Was anybody in the water?
ABBY WUTZLER: Yes, heaps of people, not everyone in the water made it. I think my dad said we heard on the beach there were about 15 bodies washed up.
KERRI RITCHIE: Vicky Wutzler is a very proud mum.
VICKY WUTZLER: It most definitely saved a lot of lives in the process, mine included because I would never have got out. I had my back to the wave going into to do some hand washing so I wouldn't have got there so yeah it was great.
KERRI RITCHIE: Abby Wutzler says the Tsunami has brought her family closer and she's now good mates with her brother.
ABBY WUTZLER: Yeah, I guess he is, nicer than he was.
KERRI RITCHIE: She feels very sorry for the Samoans who lost everything.
ABBY WUTZLER: You look from one side and you saw this wasteland of stuff and you look at the other side and it's lovely and green and things but hm, then you pretty much wish you were a bird to fly away.