Over the past 12 months, there have been considerable changes within Emergency Management in New Zealand, in response to the Technical Advisory Group Review.

The review provided 42 recommendations to improve the system, including establishing the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on 1 December 2019, replacing the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM).

As a departmental agency, NEMA has greater autonomy than MCDEM had. The government has also given NEMA an important stewardship role that requires it to lead and coordinate across the emergency management system (including central and local government) for all hazards and risks.

With the spread of COVID-19 on a global scale, NEMA gave direction for all Civil Defence & Emergency Management (CDEM) groups to step into a role they would not normally undertake. As a result, there has been a resurgence plan developed outlining all of government responsibility to the Chatham Islands during ongoing impact from a pandemic event.

Like any event, we take the opportunity to improve how emergency management is delivered. As Area Coordinators are the first point of contact for the community, we are putting mechanisms in place to further support them, including refining Area Coordinators’ zones and how they can support each other if needed. Once this information is finalised, we will be sure to update the community about the new zones.

Although all CDEM Groups have been preoccupied with COVID-19 and engaging with NEMA to support policy and planning through this time, there was still a lot of work to be done at the local level. This includes reviewing the 14 required plans and projects across the ‘4R’s: Reduction, Readiness, Response and Recovery. Working with the Regional Leadership Group/stakeholders on the Resurgence Plan requested nationally.

The Regional Leadership Group (RLG) is made up of the same agencies that sit on the Chatham Islands Stakeholders Group. The RLG supports the social and economic recovery in each of the 16 regions across New Zealand, convening leadership and ensuring a regional strategic plan which caters to different communities. The Group Controller will undertake the legislated role to coordinate operational response in an emergency, and will be embedded into the RLG structure, declared or undeclared.

Emergency Management is complex and at times it is challenging to accommodate the uniqueness of the Chatham Islands while remaining compliant with legislative requirements. Like most other CDEM Groups, we have limited resources and rely on volunteers. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please get in touch.

Rana Solomon
Chatham Islands Emergency Manager

Rana Solomon, Chatham Islands Emergency Manager