Different agencies work together to manage emergencies and keep people safe. Find out who does what in an emergency.

Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups

Most small emergencies are managed by the relevant emergency service. For example Fire and Emergency New Zealand manage building fires.

New Zealand also has small- to medium-scale events caused by natural hazards like floods. Your local council or Civil Defence Emergency Management Group manages these. Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups are made up of the city and district councils in a region.

There are sixteen Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups in New Zealand.

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Find your local Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group.

State of local emergency

Some emergencies need extra coordination across services. In this case, a state of local emergency can be declared. A state of local emergency gives the relevant Civil Defence Emergency Management Group Group special powers to deal with the emergency.

In a state of local emergency, the relevant Civil Defence Emergency Management Group manages the response to the emergency. This involves:

  • coordinating other emergency services
  • making sure temporary accommodation, food and water are available
  • making sure access to dangerous areas is properly controlled, and
  • providing regular public information messages.

Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups may also help sometimes when there is not a declared state of emergency.

State of national emergency

For very large emergencies, the Minister for Emergency Management can declare a state of national emergency. In this case, the Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management assumes control. The National Emergency Management Agency manages the response.

Other work of Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups

Outside of emergencies, Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups help build more resilient communities. This includes:

  • working to reduce risks and hazards communities face
  • planning for emergency responses, and
  • leading recovery after a significant event.

Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups work closely with:

  • emergency services
  • government departments
  • iwi
  • providers of essential services such as power, communications, and gas; and
  • others who help people and communities in emergency responses.  

Each Civil Defence Emergency Management Group has a Civil Defence Emergency Management Plan. The Plan must include:

  • which hazards and risks the Civil Defence Emergency Management Group will manage
  • how they will be managed, and
  • strategic planning for recovery from hazards and risks.   

National Emergency Management Agency

Outside of emergencies, the National Emergency Management Agency promotes greater resilience to disasters. It also oversees New Zealand’s emergency management system. It ensures the system is operating as expected and identifies opportunities for improvement.

The National Emergency Management Agency supports local, regional and national understanding and coordination. This includes among government, iwi, local government, and private and community organisations.

The National Emergency Management Agency:

  • identifies hazards and risks of national significance
  • provides guidance to Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups and others on emergency management, and
  • monitors the performance of Civil Defence Emergency Management groups. 
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Find out more about the National Emergency Management Agency.