Rethinking Hazard Management in New Zealand

Author: Vernon, Rory

Date: 2021

Publisher: University of Otago

Type: Thesis

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New Zealand is characterised by a high susceptibility to natural hazards. The last decade has been characterised by the Christchurch 2010 earthquake and devastating aftershock sequence that included the infamous ‘2011 Christchurch earthquake’ alongside the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake have catalysed discussions around the state of the civil defence emergency management framework. In New Zealand, civil defence emergency management are managed under a framework that is fed by a range of different statutory legislation, including the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act (CDEMA) 2002 and the Resource Management Act (RMA) 1991. Combined with other non-statutory documents such as the newly developed National Disaster Resilience Strategy 2019 and international commitments to hazard and risk reduction such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Resilience 2015 – 2030. The combination of the legislative devices named above, and others have combined to create the hazard and emergency management framework based on the ‘4R’s’ within the CDEMA; reduction, readiness, response and recovery. Considering the fundamental role that land-use planning has for hazard management, this research has analysed the lessons learnt from the Christchurch and Kaikōura earthquakes and assess the effectiveness and appropriateness of the current hazard and emergency framework. The research found significant issues within this framework that extend from tension and disconnection in the guiding legislation (RMA and CDEMA) leading to non-optimal development and management decisions, deeply ingrained resourcing issues that affect both central and local government with debilitating effects for the development and implementation of best practice and national and regional differences that call for increased centralisation to ensure greater levels of consistency of planning processes and outcomes. In order to overcome these issues in the framework, this research has suggested a number of pathways to help achieve best practice in the future. Aligning with the eventual reforms or possible repeal of the RMA, there must be more connection and communication between the RMA and CDEMA, prior to and after disasters. The significant resourcing issues that characterise the sector must be addressed for practices such as targeted hazard and risk assessment and proactive planning to take place. This research has also suggested that more centralisation must be achieved in the form of an NPS for natural hazards, a national recovery office or both, however, it is imperative that this does not result in the loss of autonomy for local governments, especially in small regions.

Subjects: New Zealand, hazard, management, planning, natural

Citation: ["Vernon, R. (2021). Rethinking Hazard Management in New Zealand (Thesis, Master of Planning). University of Otago. Retrieved from"]

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