Back to top anchor

Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM)


The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM) provides leadership in reducing risk, being ready for, responding to, and recovering from emergencies.

We manage central government’s response and recovery functions for national emergencies, and support the management of local and regional emergencies.


The primary function of MCDEM is to support and enable communities to manage emergencies. MCDEM works with the diverse range of agencies that comprise the civil defence emergency management sector; each with different responsibilities and focus, and varying levels of resources and capability. Organisations involved include communities and their local authorities, central government departments and agencies, emergency services, welfare agencies, lifeline utilities and education providers, researchers, international agencies, and non-government organisations.

The overarching strategy is to build resilience through a risk management approach and the four "Rs" of:

  • Risk Reduction
  • Readiness
  • Response
  • Recovery

This approach starts with recognising the range of hazards we face and the vulnerability of our communities, buildings, and infrastructure to those hazards. By understanding the impacts we could face from hazards, the focus can move to measures for reducing the risks and for managing impacts when they occur.

MCDEM aims to put the right tools, knowledge, and skills in the hands of those who will be responsible for designing and implementing solutions at the local level. We do this by working closely with local government, lifeline utilities, the emergency services, and a range of other organisations involved in civil defence emergency management.

In an emergency MCDEM:

  • leads the national response and recovery for
    • geological events – earthquakes, volcanic, tsunami landslides
    • weather events – coastal hazards, floods, severe storm
    • failure of Infrastructure - e,g, telecommunication, power networks.
  • supports civil defence emergency management (CDEM) Groups, which lead emergency responses at the local level for the above hazards
  • supports other agencies when they have the lead, such as Police (e.g. terrorism events), Ministry for Primary Industries (e.g. drought, animal diseases and food safety), and Ministry of Health (human pandemics).
Last updated: 
Thursday, 29 June 2017

Contact us

General enquiries

Contact us by using our online enquiry form

Office of the Chief Executive
Level 8 Executive Wing
Parliament Buildings


(04) 830 5000

Media enquiries

If your query is intended for the Prime Minister’s media staff then you should use and your query will go directly to them.

For all other media queries, please email

The DPMC performance story

Our purpose is to advance an ambitious, resilient and well-governed New Zealand.

Make an Official Information Act (OIA) request

  1. Read about the Official Information Act (OIA) on our guidance page How to make an Official Information Act (OIA) request for content held by DPMC.
  2. Before making a request to DPMC, check our publications and see what information is publicly available and see if we have answered your questions.
  3. Make a new request by contacting us.

Help us improve DPMC

Your feedback is very important in helping us improve the DPMC website.