Accessibility About this Site About the Ministry Locate the nearest council Links Home Search Main Content

Evacuation Planning and Management
Many emergencies experienced in New Zealand lead to evacuations of communities and small scale evacuations are relatively common. However the scale of some hazards, such as volcanic eruptions, tsunami, flooding and chemical spills, could call for the evacuation of large numbers of people. This webpage is designed to provide resources and links to support and assist emergency management officers and others engaged with evacuation planning activities.

Evacuation Planning
As with all emergency planning, the process of planning itself is just as important as the final written plan. In addition to developing a working knowledge of the overall plan, this process also facilitates the development of relationships between stakeholders which aids in improving operational capacities.

Mass Evacuation Planning Guideline
Sections 73 – 78 of the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002 details some of the guiding principles, objectives and decision requirements regarding evacuations. These are further supported by Section 23 – Mass Evacuation (pdf), in The Guide to the National Civil Defence Emergency Management Plan, 2006 and the Mass Evacuation Planning Guideline DGL 07/08 (pdf 1.2MB).

The Mass Evacuation Planning Guideline has been prepared in to assist CDEM Groups, Local Authorities and other emergency management agencies with designing, implementing and promoting plans for the evacuation of areas likely to be affected by hazardous events.

The focus of this guideline is towards planning for large-scale evacuations; however the principles can be also applied to planning evacuations of any magnitude.

This document is designed to guide Local Authorities, CDEM Groups and their members through the evacuation planning process, and highlights issues to be addressed during this planning. This will result in a region having a workable evacuation plan aimed at executing an effective evacuation should the need arise.


Evacuation Plans
Gisborne District Civil Defence Flood Evacuation Contingency Plan – Te Karaka (pdf)
Gisborne District Emergency Services Flood Evacuation Contingency Plan – Tolaga Bay (pdf)
Sydney CBD Emergency Sub-Plan (Public Version)

Evacuation Guidelines and Resources
Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management, 2008, National Tsunami Signage, Technical Standard for the CDEM Sector [TS 01/08] (pdf)
Emergency Management Australia, 1998, Evacuation Planning (pdf)
Justice Institute of British Colombia Emergency Management Division, 2005, British Columbia Operational Guidelines for Evacuations (pdf)

Building Evacuation Schemes
Fire safety legislation makes it the responsibility of building owners to take fire safety precautions in their buildings including fire evacuation procedures. Some buildings must have in place an evacuation scheme approved by the Fire Service. The legislation also requires the occupants of buildings to comply with those precautions and follow the fire evacuation procedures put in place by the building owner.
This site will provide you with information to help you to determine if your building requires an approved evacuation scheme. You will find information on the requirements for evacuation schemes in buildings, developing your scheme and how to apply for approval of your scheme:

Papers and Journal Articles
Davis, E. and Mincin, J., 2005, ‘Incorporating Special Needs Populations into Emergency Planning and Exercises’, June 26, 2005, Sponsored by Nobody Left Behind: Disaster Preparedness For Persons with Mobility Impairments, Research and Training Center on Independent Living University of Kansas,

Finnis, K., 2004, ‘Creating a Resilient New Zealand: Can public education and community development campaigns create prepared communities? An examination of preparedness motivation strategies’, University of Otago, Dunedin 2004. ISBN: 0-478-25460-1.$file/finnis_report_final.pdf

Keys, C. and Opper, S., 2002, ‘On the Proper Conceptualisation of the Warning, Evacuation and Community Education tasks in the Context of Planning for Dam Failure’, presented at the ANCOLD 2002 Conference on Dams, Glenelg,

Molino, S., Begg, G., Stewart, L. and Opper, S., 2002, ‘Bells and whistles, belts and braces Part 1: Designing an integrated flood warning system for the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley’, in The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, 17 (1), 55-59,

Molino, S., Begg, G., Stewart, L. and Opper, S., 2002, ‘Bells and Whistles, belts and braces Part 2: Designing an integrated flood warning system for the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley’, in The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, 17 (2), 40-49,

Opper, S., 2004, ‘The Application of Timelines to Evacuation Planning’, Coffs Harbour FMA Conference 2004,

Opper, S., Gissing, A., Molino, S. and Edwards, G., 2007, ‘To Flee or Not to Flee – An Evaluation of Warning and Evacuation Effectiveness’,

Pfister, N., ‘Community response to flood warnings: the case of an evacuation from Grafton, March 2001’, in The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Autumn 2002, Pp 19 – 29,$file/Community_response_to_flood_grafton.pdf

Quarantelli, E. L., 1985, ‘Social Support Systems: Some Behavioral Patterns in the Context of Mass Evacuation Activities’, in Disasters and Mental Health: Selected Contemporary Perspectives, ed. Sowder, B.J., (Rockville, MD: National Institute of Mental Health, 1985): pp122-136,

Quarantelli, E. L., 2001, ‘The Sociology of Panic’ in International Encyclopaedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences New York, NY: Pergamon, 2001: 11020–30, eds. Smelser, N. and Baltes, P.B.,

Tierney, K., Bevc, C., and Kuligowski, E., 2006, ‘Metaphors Matter: Disaster Myths, Media Frames, and Their Consequences in Hurricane Katrina’, The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 604, No. 1, 57-81,