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Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management

Since 1 April 2014, the Ministry has been a business unit within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC). DPMC leads national security planning. Having the Ministry within DPMC benefits that planning and gives the Ministry a greater role in working across all of government to strengthen national emergency management arrangements.

The Ministry of Civil Defence had been established in 1959 within the Department of Internal Affairs because of that department's responsibility for local government. At that time, the Secretary for Internal Affairs became also the Director of Civil Defence.

Since January 1965 the Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management has been a specific, dedicated position, and continues to be so.

The legislation and arrangements for civil defence have developed since 1959 but the principle that quickly developed, and has continued, is that civil defence is undertaken locally, coordinated regionally, and supported from the national level.

Today, local authorities are the primary agents responsible for civil defence emergency management. They are required by law to plan for and provide civil defence in their area.

Regionally, 16 CDEM Groups are formed from all the local authorities in that region. They work with other agencies to reduce risks, be ready for an emergency, respond when needed and lead recovery afterwards.

At the national level, the Ministry provides policy advice to government, supports CDEM planning and operations, ensures there is coordination at local, regional and national levels, and manages the central government response for large scale civil defence emergencies that are beyond the capacity of local authorities.

Key links:

Hurunui/Kaikōura Earthquakes Recovery Act 2016

The Hurunui/Kaikōura Earthquakes Recovery Act 2016 is a key part of the government’s response to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that occurred on 14 November 2016. A copy of the Act can be found here

Under the Act, the Governor-General, on the recommendation of the relevant Minister, may make an Order in Council to amend certain legislation (see list below for the legislation which is able to be changed). The ability to amend legislation means the government can, where appropriate, remove legislative barriers to assist earthquake-affected areas, councils and communities to respond to and recover from the earthquakes.

Do you consider that a legal requirement could be made easier to assist with earthquake response or recovery or you have identified a piece of legislation that should be amended? You may want to contact the relevant government agency (see the list below) or your local council. But, a National Recovery Office is also providing oversight of recovery and you can contact the office by emailing

The Hurunui/Kaikōura Earthquakes Recovery Act has a process that allows other legislation to be added to it; once that has happened, the Governor-General can make orders in council to amend that legislation. If you think that another piece of legislation should be added to the Act, please contact>

Review Panel

The Acting Minister of Civil Defence has appointed a Review Panel to review draft orders and provide advice to the relevant Minister. The members of that Panel are: 

  • Sir John Hansen (Convenor)

  • Mr James Gardner-Hopkins

  • Ms Yvette Couch-Lewis

  • Mr Basil Morrison

  • Mr Kelvin Coe

The Panel’s recommendations (and the reasons for the recommendations) on each draft order are:

Legislation that may be amended

Enactments to which order may relateAdministered by
Building Act 2004 Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment
Crown Pastoral Land Act 1998 Land Information New Zealand
Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014 Ministry for Culture and Heritage
Land Act 1948 Land Information New Zealand
Land Transfer Act 1952 Ministry of Justice and Land Information New Zealand
Public Works Act 1981 Land Information New Zealand and Ministry for Primary Industries (Part 19 only)
Rating Valuations Act 1998 Land Information New Zealand
Conservation, environment, and marine legislation
Conservation Act 1987 Department of Conservation
Kaikōura (Te Tai o Marokura) Marine Management Act 2014 Department of Conservation and Ministry for Primary Industries
Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 Department of Conservation
Marine Reserves Act 1971 Department of Conservation
Reserves Act 1977 Department of Conservation
Resource Management Act 1991 Ministry for the Environment
Soil Conservation and Rivers Control Act 1941 Ministry for the Environment
Wildlife Act 1953 Department of Conservation
Civil defence and earthquakes
Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002 Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management
Earthquake Commission Act 1993 Treasury
Hurunui/Kaikōura Earthquakes Emergency Relief Act 2016 Ministry for the Environment
Inland Revenue Acts (as defined in section 3(1) of the Tax Administration Act 1994) Inland Revenue Department
Local government
Local Government Act 1974 Department of Internal Affairs
Local Government Act 2002
Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987
Local Government (Rating) Act 2002
Government Roading Powers Act 1989 Ministry of Transport
Land Transport Act 1998 Ministry of Transport
Land Transport Management Act 2003 Ministry of Transport
Maritime Transport Act 1994 Ministry of Transport
New Zealand Railways Corporation Act 1981 Treasury
Railways Act 2005 Ministry of Transport
Road User Charges Act 2012 Ministry of Transport
Utilities Access Act 2010 Treasury
Food Safety
Animal Products Act 1999 Ministry for Primary Industries
Food Act 2014
Wine Act 2003
Accident Compensation Act 2001 Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment
Corrections Act 2004 Department of Corrections
Social Security Act 1964 Ministry of Social Development
Any Act (other than the Public Finance Act 1989) to the extent that it relates to financial reporting obligations of any group, entity, or other person Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
An Act specified in an Order in Council made under section 16 The relevant Department specified in the Act
Regulations made under an Act referred to above
Any plan, programme, bylaw, or rule made under an enactment referred to above