Earthquake Prediction a Timely Reminder

  • Jack Elder
Civil Defence

A recent report predicting a major earthquake for the Wellington region is a timely reminder that we need to be better prepared, according to the Minister of Emergency Management and Civil Defence the Hon Jack Elder.

"We have been aware of this study for some time, as it is one of a number of studies that are being carried out in other parts of the country," Jack Elder said.

"However current reforms to the New Zealand's Civil Defence structure will go a long way to help reduce the impacts of these large scale events.

"These reforms will see local authorities, the 111 services, and volunteer groups working together in approximately 20 new emergency management groups around the country. These groups will not only co-ordinate the response to emergencies, but will also assess and manage risks and vulnerabilities confronting our communities before a disaster occurs.

"As a result of the new reforms, regions such as Wellington, will be a lot more resilient to the impact of disasters such as major earthquakes.

The reforms are based in part on work down in the so called Lifelines Projects. These projects bring together energy, water and telecommunications utilities to assess the risks to their systems, such as from a major earthquake, and then implement systems to mitigate those risks.

The Wellington region was the first in New Zealand to undertake a Lifelines project, and this has now been replicated in eight other areas of the country.

"However, we can not afford to be complacent. The Wellington study reminds us that there is still a lot of work to be done, and everyone has a role to play to ensure that they are properly prepared for the next big emergency."

The first of these new emergency management groups will be up and running by next year.

In May of this year, an arrangement of understandings was signed between New Zealand's Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management Australia.

The agreement lays the foundation for further discussion to strengthen emergency management co-operation between our two countries and to enable each country to assist in responding to major disasters that may occur in either country.

A working party has been established between the two agencies in order to formalise the arrangement into a more substantive agreement.