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E-Bulletin - August 2007

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Clutha District flood
Taranaki's impeccable timing
Maintaining your website during an event
South Island CDEM forum
New EM graduates
Rapid storm response training
Public Education
Professional Development
2007 Emergency Management Conference
On-farm disaster pamphlet
National CDEM strategy
Review of CDEM Planning
MCDEM website changes

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Director's Message - John Hamilton
John Hamilton, Director of The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency ManagementYou do not need to look too far to see what a dynamic world it is in which we live! In these past few weeks we have had a number of emergencies here in New Zealand, but overseas others have had to confront emergencies including highway bridges collapsing in the US, devastating monsoon flooding in Asia, and in the UK not only widespread flooding, but also terrorist actions and now a foot and mouth outbreak. The plethora of issues that float across my desk look insignificant compared to some of those, but there are many common threads. First, irrespective of the origin of the disaster or emergency, it is people and their livelihoods that are impacted and we must never lose sight of that. Second, there are lessons to be identified from the experiences of others both at home and overseas. The lessons conveniently fall into each of the four Rs that form the foundation of our approach to emergency management in New Zealand. We owe it our people to heed these lessons and to strive to improve our readiness and our ability to respond. Allow me to draw your attention to a couple of issues that are all part of our learning and development.

The revised national strategy for civil defence emergency management in New Zealand has now entered its public consultation period. It provides the philosophical underpinning for how emergencies are managed. It is a critical document and I encourage you to read it and submit comments.

It was with some regret that the Minister had to postpone his CDEM Forum from 9 August to 20 September 2007. The Forum gives Chairs of CDEM Groups and CEGs the opportunity to discuss the developments and their concerns with the Minister. This year the theme is “Generating Resilience”. Its connection to the national strategy is clear and our two guest speakers, Professor David Elms of Christchurch and Ms Michele Daly of the Kestrel Group, will explore what constitutes resilience in communities and what we can do at all levels to make communities more resilient. We had hoped that Prof Tom O’Rourke from the US would be able to attend but his busy university teaching programme does not allow it. I am pleased that David Elms is willing to stand into the breach and I expect it to be a very good day!

It is my intention to use the concepts that will be discussed at the Forum and others’ experiences to move the public education programme along from generating improved levels of awareness to encouraging people to actually change their behaviours and actions. I want to continue to develop the PEP to clearly show its phases, streams and activities, so that local groups and organisations can work up and co-ordinate their initiatives.

Work continues in the Tsunami Working Group and in MCDEM with finding ways to improve the functions of the NCMC and its connections with Group EOCs. I can understand the impatience and frustration that slow progress in critical projects like these creates. We are getting there, albeit slowly. In all that we take on, across all four Rs we need to find the balance between speed, thoroughness and the need to produce effective results.

John Hamilton

(PS Don't forget the upcoming 2007 Emergency Management Conference 4-5 October. See the article is this month's e-bulletin for more information)

Clutha District flood emergency

On Monday 30 July South Canterbury and Coastal Otago was hit by a prolonged spell of rain with over 100mm falling in most areas. Both the Canterbury and Otago CDEM Groups were involved. Worst affected was the Milton area of Clutha District where over 90mm of rain fell causing houses to be flooded, residents evacuated and roads closed isolating communities in the area. More than 50 people were evacuated from 20 flood-affected homes.

Flooded home in Milton Flooded street in Milton
Flooded homes in Milton. Click on each image for a larger version.

The Mayor of the District, Juno Hayes declared a State of Emergency for the Bruce Ward at 2040hrs. The state of emergency was lifted the next morning at 9.00am after rain had eased, SH1 north and south of the town had reopened and a recovery plan implemented.

The council’s recovery manager is Alan Dickson (Manager Corporate Services). He is working closely with the community and government agencies co-ordinating and matching assistance to those that need it.

Long term, about 14 homes remain uninhabitable until dried out and repairs completed. Most homes were fully insured.

The area was affected by flood on Anzac Day 2006 so for many residents who had only recently completed repairs, this flood was heartbreaking. Only the day before, the Council had approved funding for the first stage of a flood protection scheme in the area.

Other organisations involved during this event included:

  • Waimate District in South Canterbury where the CDEM EOC was activated to monitor the situation particularly around Morven
  • Waitaki District where the rain ‘stopped in the nick of time’ before flooding affected a number of communities. An aerial reconnaissance the following day revealed that the district had got off lightly
  • Dunedin City also activated to monitor the situation. Residents in Waikouaiti opened their doors to motorists stranded on SH1 when rising waters closed the road. The RSA hall became temporary accommodation for some. The Taieri River rose to a high level, overflowing into parts of the designated flood plain.

Impeccable timing

Nothing beats a disaster event to raise public awareness of the need to be prepared as Taranaki Regional Council Senior Information Officer Rusty Ritchie explains:

“I'm sure you aware of the Taranaki initiative we used to support the Get Ready Get Thru campaign – the two days of tornadoes! The timing of the emergency in Taranaki was pretty amazing for promoting the need to be prepared.

4 July
We sent out a media release "Be a master in a disaster" customised from the generic MCDEM media release to promote the Get Ready, Get Thru publicity campaign and mail-out of the emergency checklist.

Lunchtime 4 July – the first tornado in New Plymouth.

5 July
We sent out a second media release "Be prepared when nature comes a-knocking" asking residents to take the first tornado as a reminder of the need to be prepared for a disaster.

5 – 6pm 5 July – a swarm of tornadoes across Taranaki region.

I got called in to the Taranaki Emergency Management Office at 7pm and got home around 11.45pm, cleared my letterbox and there on top of my mail was the Get ready Get Thru emergency checklist and emergency plan! Somewhat ironic.

Many of the GRGT brochures were delivered the night of the tornadoes. Unfortunately many of those affected by the tornadoes no longer had letterboxes!”

Maintaining your website during an event

screen grab of the Northland websiteFollowing the two recent storm events in Northland, Northland Regional Council was asked to provide a few tips and tricks for maintaining an official Civil Defence website for your region.

Make it easy to access
Set up a simple URL address for direct access to updates as your event unfolds. For example, even though we had direct access to information from our homepage, we also quickly set up the URL address Using a simple URL is also more effective for radio and print messages.

Ensure your website has the flexibility to completely change your homepage to provide emergency event information.

Road closures
Only ever add verified road closures to your website. Our policy is to only add road closure information once it is verified by the District Council roading contractors or other relevant agencies (e.g. Transit, Police, etc). With road closure information, try to provide exact locations of slips, bridge closures or flooding.

Website basics – what to include
Basic information to have on your website during an event includes:
  • Road closure information, including a link to AA Roadwatch which tracks real-time information on State Highway networks
  • School and airport closure information to prevent unnecessary trips
  • Utility information – telecommunications, electricity, sewerage and water supply details, including relevant contact numbers for each utility provider
  • Weather warnings from MetService.
  • News releases from the Regional Emergency Operations Centre.
  • Welfare information, including welfare centre address locations, Government welfare assistance, victim support, housing support, financial assistance, etc

Update, update, update
Continually update your website. We had three staff working full-time on the website at its peak with road closure information being updated every five minutes. And remember, as your website is available 24/7, internet visitors expect the same. You have to continually work through the night updating the website as information comes to hand.

Pictures are powerful
If resources allow, provide an online image gallery. This is really useful to reduce requests from the media as they can self-source images and the information required.

Key messages
Have available pre-prepared key messages. For example, we had to wait for several hours for messages to be prepared by the District Health Board on food safety following flooding and power cuts. This was a time delay we could have done without.

A web audience of thousands
Even though your immediate target audience is affected residents, without power, how will they be able to access this information?

Your audience in this situation then becomes people who can access battery-powered radios. Local radio stations were broadcasting the information from the website, especially road closures. Call centre staff from all Councils could access and relay the same information, friends and families of affected residents were able to keep informed. Your web audience also includes residents who are out of the region and trying to get home.

Preparation is everything
As with any Civil Defence role, preparation is everything. With a website, you can prepare ahead of time templates and key messages as well as source key contact numbers and welfare information. A couple of questions to ask yourself when preparing for an emergency:
  • Can your website be updated from any location (e.g. is it web-enabled)?
  • Do you have enough trained staff to update your website?
  • Do you have contact information for other key authority websites so you can make sure links are set up between sites when necessary?

South Island CDEM Forum 3-5 October

The South Island Civil Defence Emergency Management Officers Forum is being held at the Scenic Circle Blenheim Country Lodge in Blenheim 3-5 October this year. Most if not all the 50 Emergency Management officers in the South Island will be in attendance along with the three South Island MCDEM Regional Emergency Management Advisors.

The Director, John Hamilton is giving the keynote address on Leadership in Emergency Management. There are also presentations on climate change, the Northland floods and the challenges facing responders to the earthquake and tsunami in the Solomon Islands. The forum also includes a field trip to examine the various hazards within the Marlborough district. On Friday morning attendees will then discuss response arrangements to some of these hazards. The forum will conclude with a presentation on lifeline lessons learned from the Northridge and Kobe earthquakes.

Emergency Management graduation

The inaugural Tai Poutini Polytechnic Emergency Management Graduation ceremony was held on Saturday 14 July 2007 in Palmerston North. The graduation was attended by graduates, their friends, family and EMANZ and Tai Poutini staff. The ceremony saw 48 students graduate with their Level 2 and/or Level 4 Certificate in Emergency Management.

Many of the graduates had completed the study required to gain their certificates in their own time. Jan Pryor, a level four certificate graduate, explains “[it is] a lot of work but it doesn’t feel like work because it’s actually fun. All the stuff that you do, the more technical stuff, is fun… so you get the excitement as well as study.”

Awards were presented by EMANZ Chief Executive Steve Glassey who stressed the importance of recognising achievement and rewarding excellence. “All our graduates, are making an outstanding contribution to the emergency management sector and it is their dedication and hard-work that will shape the way that the sector grows and how it is seen by others.”

Rapid Storm Response Training

Roof repair exerciseWellington
The current run of bad weather around the country is a timely reminder to re-evaluate response capability and training. The Wellington CDEM group plan ranks storms and floods third and fourth on the regional hazard table. In response to the identified training needs in the region, Devereux-Blum Training and Development Limited delivered two practical storm response training days in June for Wellington Response teams. Each day saw a mix of individuals from RT8, RT9 and RT18 introduced to the basic techniques required to work safely on roofs, apply improvised repairs to roofs and portals across a variety of scenarios. The site used provided a realistic opportunity for the teams as they boarded broken windows and doors at varying levels and worked on damaged and rotten roof areas of various pitches and sizes. Participants experienced the difficulties of working with large tarpaulins on roofs and securing them in place. Coming up with a safe and workable plan, sticking to the plan and confirming that all involved understood the plan were keys to successful completion of the tasks given. Feedback from the training was very positive with further training planned.

Securing a ladderWaitakere
The first day of training took the team members through the basic principles of storm response including application of heights safety systems and various improvised repairs. The second day built on these skills with several deployment scenarios around the Waitakere region undertaking repairs to damaged roofs and temporary covering of open roofs and windows.
There were significant learning opportunities for the team over the weekend from the establishing of workable safety systems, getting stores up onto roofs and securing tarpaulins in place on both open frames and full roofs. The many variables involved with storm response highlighted once again the need to develop a solid plan, and ensure all involved understand their roles and the objective. Poor communication, antennas and stray projections on buildings can sabotage the best of plans.
While this work requires patience and perseverance, the skills and knowledge gained from the readiness training go a long way towards improving regional capability. Team manager Brandon Guttery says “The course was a valuable and challenging for the whole team, run by excellent experienced trainers. Well worth the investment.”

Public education

Get Ready Now
Final decisions will be made this week on the opportunities that will arise for publicity during Disaster Awareness week, 7-13 October. This year’s theme "Get Ready Now" builds on the existing themes of Get Ready Get Thru. As soon as possible the themes and supporting information will be posted on this website. Look out for the Get Ready Get Thru advertising preceding the mini-series Flood coming up on TV2, on 22 and 29 August.

Think about people in your group or neighbourhood who could be good for interviews during Disaster Awareness Week. Maybe there are some new migrants in your community who know what it's like to endure a disaster and are now prepared. Who is confident and articulate enough to talk to a radio host or to groups and community newspapers? Prepare simple answers and if you don’t know something, say so, and refer people to the local Council or the Ministry.

Create your own opportunities. Is there a foyer in a shopping mall or supermarket where you might have a table with torches, batteries radios and other essentials? Make some enquiries now.

CDEM Professional Development

International Recovery Network launched
The International Recovery Network was launched on 10 July 2007. This follows ongoing discussions between New Zealand and Australia since 2004 and is also in conjunction with Auckland University of Technology who are currently expanding their emergency management programmes. This initiative is a web-based network with access to resources, chat rooms, noticeboards and more interactive aspects. Members from across the world will have password access and be able to contribute directly to the content and approach of the Network.

In the June 2007 issue of E-Bulletin we announced that the New Zealand Recovery Network will be incorporated into the new site. If you’re interested in joining the International Recovery Network or are a current member of the New Zealand Recovery Network, please register using the web address and login details below, which are generic for all New Zealanders. Note: each country using the International Recovery Network will be provided with their own login and password. Once you have logged in on to the International Recovery Network, please register your details as an individual user.

Username: GuestNZ
Password: k1w1

The International Recovery Network will rely on your input and collaboration so please ensure you participate and contribute where you can.

Direction of CDEM Professional Development
The role of the Professional Development Team within the CDEM Specialist Services Unit of MCDEM is twofold:
  1. To provide leadership and the strategic direction for CDEM Professional Development and
  2. To assist and support people in the CDEM sector develop and deliver professional development programmes to prepare people for the wide range of responsibilities needed within the sector.
It’s a complex task with lots of variable and unknowns. What is constant is that we all need trained and competent people working together. The importance of well developed, practical and vital professional development programmes supporting people for the roles they discharge cannot be overstated. To do this the Professional Development Team is currently working in 5 broad areas.

1. To ensure the operational capacity is supported We are conducting Controllers, Public Information Managers and Recovery courses.

2. Learn of the CDEM sector’s needs To be of use to the CDEM sector we need to know what people need and how we can assist and support you. We are keen to meet with CDEM Group training advisory groups and develop partnerships with them to support their professional development programmes.

3. Support the NZQA framework within the Civil Defence Emergency Management DomainMCDEM will support the development and reinforcement of the NZQA framework in the Civil Defence Emergency Management domain. This includes involvement in every aspect of this systems approach and includes:
  • Contributing to the review and writing of unit standards.
  • Contributing to the development and review of national qualifications.
  • Developing training programmes utilising and linking to unit standards.
  • Supporting the Polytechnic and Private Training Providers.
  • Actively engaging in the assessment and moderation processes as a major stakeholder within the CDEM sector.
  • Actively supporting and promoting the tertiary sector in the Civil Defence Emergency Management domain.

4. Developing continuing education We will support continuing education within the CDEM sector. It is important to stay abreast with developments in any area of CDEM. It is particularly important for Civil Defence Emergency Management because we may not be operational all of the time. This approach provides a great opportunity to meet with other people with similar responsibilities to see and hear how they do things. It maintains interest and allows ideas to percolate and develop. This approach allows adult learners become self-directing. The welfare cluster is a good example of the benefits of developing a community of interest. Supporting the development and coordination of communities of interest is an important and developing area for Professional Development.

5. Support for the Tertiary Education MCDEM will support and liaise with the University sector to ensure the ranges of options needed by the sector are in place.

For more information please contact: Brett Jones, Team Leader; Professional Development, CDEM Specialist Services

Controller competencies and performance criteria
As mentioned in the July 2007 e-bulletin MCDEM facilitated a needs analysis workshop with a small group of Controllers in June to establish competencies and performance criteria. The attached document contains the results of this work and is now providing direction to the Professional Development Team in the design of the Controllers Course. We think it makes for some interesting reading.

Controller unit standard (doc 75kB)

Survey of Controllers
The results are in and the analysis is complete. Thank you to all 81 of the Controllers who sent in a survey form. Based on the information we now have a clearer idea of the make up of Controllers, the level of existing capability and importantly, the types of training and professional development that are desirable.

PIM, Recovery Managers and Controllers Courses

Public Information Manager’s Course
This 1-day course (16 October) is for anyone who may be required to perform a core public information management function in an emergency. It will focus on developing the PIM skills detailed in the Public Information Management: Information for the CDEM Sector booklet, through a mix of practical exercises and activities, guest presentations and discussions. The prerequisite for registration is that the attendee is skilled and experienced in basic communications functions such as writing key messages, identifying audiences, and collating and developing content for channels such as media releases and websites.

Public Information Manager registration form: (doc 414kB)

Recovery Managers Course
This 2-day course (31 October – 1 November) is for Recovery Managers (Group and Local) and will be facilitated by MCDEM. The content of this course has been designed to cover the trainable competencies identified at the Recovery Managers’ needs analysis workshop 8 May 2007 and the performance criteria of a Recovery Management Unit Standard. It is designed to enable Recovery Managers to adequately prepare themselves with the technical process knowledge to discharge their role. It will include a mix of practical exercises and guest speakers.

Recovery Manager registration form: (doc 185kB)

Controller’s Course
This 3 day course (19 – 21 November 2007) facilitated by MCDEM will involve participants applying skills in an exercise format. A number of subject matter experts will review decisions made by participants and provide feedback. The content of this course is designed to cover the competencies and performance criteria identified by participants of the Controllers’ needs analysis workshop 28 June 2007. It is also informed by the conclusions drawn from analysis of the survey of Controllers. All Controllers (Group, Local and alternates) are invited to attend though spaces are limited to 30 people.

Controller registration form: (doc 185kB)

For registration please fill out one of the course registration forms and fax/post/email to the MCDEM Professional Development team at We are holding one place for each Group for all courses. If you do not want to send someone from your Group to any of the courses we would appreciate hearing from you so we can free that space for other Groups.

MCDEM will be funding the costs of the course, including the venue, lunches and a conference dinner (for courses of 2 days or more). It is the responsibility of the participant to fund their own transport, accommodation, other meals and any other incidentals incurred.

Further Information
For further information, please contact your local Regional Emergency Management Advisor or the MCDEM Professional Development team.

2007 Emergency Management Conference 4-5 October

The 2007 Emergency Management Conference brings together the annual North Island Emergency Management Conference (hosted by the Wellington CDEM Group) and the annual Institute of Fire Engineers conference (hosted by the New Zealand Branch). The conference is jointly organised by the Wellington CDEM Group, Institute of Fire Engineers and MCDEM.

The conference theme ‘Keeping Pace: Technology & Modern Emergency Management’ encapsulates the cultural and creative qualities of Wellington and truly reflects the innovative nature of our capital and New Zealand. The varied conference programme sets out to inform and challenge whilst entertain and inspire.

International speakers have been chosen to allow us to judge our own methods against others with an opportunity to exchange ideas. We hope you take the opportunity to be part of a remarkable conference and enjoy the Wellington experience.

Delegate Registration Form (pdf 230kB)
2007 Emergency Management Conference Programme (pdf 61kB)

On-farm disaster readiness pamphlet

MAF have produced a useful pamphlet outlining their role in adverse events, and providing information to farmers and rural communities.

On-farm Readiness and Recovery Plan for adverse climatic events and natural disasters explains individual and rural community responsibilities for responding to adverse climatic events and natural disasters that affect farm business viability (agriculture, horticulture and forestry). It also outlines central government assistance measures that may be available in small, medium and large-scale adverse events.

It is important that individuals, communities and businesses plan and prepare for adverse events. One of the best ways to speed recovery and build your business and family’s resilience is to think ahead and be prepared.

Development of the National CDEM Strategy 2007

On 26 July 2007 the Minister of Civil Defence announced the release of the National CDEM Strategy 2007 public consultation document.

The National CDEM Strategy details how we achieve the vision for CDEM in New Zealand: Resilient New Zealand. As the new CDEM arrangements for New Zealand were in their infancy at the time, the first Strategy was given the time period of 2003-2006. Officials began the Strategy review in 2006 in order to update the Strategy to reflect changes in the CDEM sector since 2003.

Prior to completing the public consultation document, we gave the 16 CDEM groups, the National Engineering Lifelines Committee and relevant government agencies the opportunity to comment on the draft consultation document. As a result of this initial sector consultation we sought to makes changes and provide clarity regarding the issues raised, by incorporating suggested wording, or by providing more explanation as required.

Copies of the public consultation document have been sent to the CDEM Group offices as well as Group and CEG Chairs, the National Engineering Lifelines Committee and Crown Research Institutes.
Further hard copies can be requested by emailing

Submissions close on Friday 21 September 2007 at 5pm.

The CDEM Policy team is available to meet with interested parties during the public consultation period. To arrange a meeting please contact your regional EMA, email the address above or call Kylie Berg, Policy Analyst on 04 494 5795. We welcome your views on the draft National CDEM Strategy 2007.

Review of National CDEM Planning: Phase I: Review of ‘the Guide’

The project to review national CDEM planning arrangements, as set out in the National Civil Defence Emergency Management Plan (the Plan) and the Guide to the National Civil Defence Emergency Management Plan (the Guide), is well underway.

The project is being undertaken in two phases. The focus of Phase I is to identify and recommend any necessary amendments to the Guide and this has commenced. Phase II is to review and recommend amendments to the Plan, and this is to commence in July 2008.

Phase I (Review of the Guide) will have two outputs. Output 1 is a general update to the Guide. Amendments are based on developments and/or errors in CDEM that have been completed by July 2007, and are to be released in November 2007. Output 2 is the wider review of the Guide involving sector consultation and development and is to be released in November 2008.

Feedback on the Guide
Currently, consultation with all agencies with responsibilities and/or arrangements specified in the Guide (ranging from Government Departments, NGOs, emergency services, lifeline utilities, and CDEM Groups) is underway in order to identify changes or possible developments that may need to be updated in the Guide.

In addition to this agencies are being asked to give general feedback on the document as it currently stands in order to provide them with an opportunity to feed directly into the review process. Feedback is due by Friday 7 September.

It is important to note that consultation with agencies in relation to Phase II of the project (Review of the Plan) will commence in 2008.

Once areas of the Guide needing development have been identified, a work programme will be initiated to develop any necessary amendments. The development of these amendments will be done over the coming six months and will involve relevant agencies and input from a CDEM Working Party, in addition to consultation with the sector in mid 2008.

If you would like more information on the review of national CDEM planning project or you would like to give feedback on the Guide, please contact:

MCDEM website changes

A considerable amount of work is currently being undertaken to improve the MCDEM website. Part of this work is related to accessibility following an accessibility report from the Office for Disability Issues. A key outcome of this work is a streamlined and simplified navigation system.

Coupled with this work is the ongoing process of content management to keep pages up to date, remove duplicate information and consolidate resources. This has begun on the public education pages.

I am also working to provide a comprehensive online photo library for use by the general public in furthering our preparedness messages as well as for use by the sector.

Your feedback in regard to what other content would be useful for you on the website would be greatly appreciated. Contact

If you have anything to add to next month's E-Bulletin contact Adrian Prowse with your submissions.