Minister visits Tairāwhiti to discuss better civil defence response to emergencies

Minister of Civil Defence Kris Faafoi says he expects to learn a lot from his visit to Gisborne tomorrow as he seeks feedback about improvements to New Zealand’s Civil Defence Emergency Management system.

Mr Faafoi will be in Gisborne on 4 May to meet Gisborne District Mayor Meng Foon, Tairāwhiti Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group and iwi.

“Communities in the Tairāwhiti region have set an excellent example on how to be prepared, take the right action at the right time, and to work as a community to look after each other,” Mr Faafoi says. “I’m looking forward to tapping into this local knowledge and experience as I gather feedback about how we can improve our system to protect New Zealanders from natural disasters and other emergencies.”

Tairāwhiti CDEM Community Link Groups were awarded a Ministerial Gold Significant Contribution to CDEM Award in 2017 for their commitment to community preparedness. This award acknowledged their long term readiness built over years and support to their communities during severe weather.

“These communities have moved from awareness to true behavioural change. They stand out as having gone over and above expectations to respond to long or strong earthquakes that have the potential to cause a local tsunami and taking action during distant source tsunami warnings.”

In January Mr Faafoi released a report into how New Zealand responds to natural disasters and emergencies, the Ministerial Review - ‘Better Responses to Natural Disasters and other Emergencies in New Zealand’. A technical advisory group (TAG) was formed to provide advice on the most appropriate operational and legislative mechanisms to support effective responses to natural disasters and other emergencies.

Mr Faafoi says he hopes to be in a position to confirm the Government response to the TAG recommendations later this year. “The current system stands up well when we need it, and has done so throughout pressures and challenges in recent years. But it is clear more must be done, particularly given the increasing events we have experienced.”

The full TAG report and submissions can be found here.