Director’s Award for Innovation Recipients

Director’s Awards for Innovation are awarded for exceptional innovation or creativity that has pushed the boundaries of current CDEM practice in New Zealand.

2018 recipients

Auckland Emergency Management

Awarded for: Recovery Walkthrough

Auckland Emergency Management have developed a new tool to democratise the design of programmes, policy and strategy for recovery. The Recovery Twister Walkshop uses co-design to deliver recovery planning, making the process approachable and accessible even for teams that do not hold direct roles in emergency management.

The Recovery Twister Walkshop is facilitated in the style of a board game. In the space of an hour, participants progress through three environments where they are introduced to the concept of disaster recovery, recovery in the Auckland context and real life event case studies. Participants provide their experiences, expertise and ideas to become part of a potential solution. These solutions are then captured to form part of a living and collective toolkit of resources that can be utilised in the event of a disaster.

The initial outcomes of the Recovery Twister Walkshop have been suggestions for the development of strategy and programmes, and also the design of what an Auckland recovery office could look like.

In addition to many Auckland Council departments, participants have included the Mayor of Auckland and representatives from the University of Auckland and the Ministry of Social Development.

Not only is this interactive learning and planning process engaging for the participants, it is also an easily packable solution (consisting of ready-made posters, facilitation dialogue and worksheets) that can be adapted for a wider audience and rolled out to different localities.

Cardno New Zealand Ltd and Wellington Water Ltd

Awarded for: Infrastructure Resilience: keeping water flowing to 400,000 people following a major earthquake in Wellington

Wellington Water manages the water supply network for the Wellington region. At the time of the 14 November 2016 Kaikōura earthquake, they were finalising a strategy to increase the resilience of the water network to natural disasters in the long term. Following the quake, Wellington Water was tasked with further accelerating its resilience strategies to deliver a comprehensive step change in water resilience across the region in just twelve months.

Wellington Water engaged the services of Cardno New Zealand to assist them in developing an innovative approach to accelerating long term resilience strategies. The challenge was simple; deliver and implement a resilience strategy in twelve months that would allow residents of the Wellington region to access at least 20 litres of water per person ever day, within 1000m of their home.

Cardno and Wellington Water introduced an ‘islands’ approach to the regional response, breaking down the response into 17 manageable areas that need to be totally self-sufficient. The islands approach helped drive the development of the ‘Community Water Station’, a single containerised water treatment station that could extract water from local sources in each island and treat it for emergency use. Each water station is self-contained and mobile. Water is transported locally within each island using a network of hundreds of community supported water bladders.

The approach developed by Cardno and Wellington Water is being adopted by other water providers, both nationally and internationally, who share similar vulnerabilities to natural disasters.

Wellington Region Emergency Management Office Community Resilience Team

Awarded for: the development of programmes to improve community readiness and response

The Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (WREMO) Community Resilience Team have produced a booklet, Your Emergency Planning Guide, to encourage members of the public to take action to improve their level of preparedness for an emergency.

The Guide uses behavioural psychology principles, applied in subtle ways, to make the step-by-step content appealing and easy to follow. Time-based triggers prompt people not to wait until an emergency happens. Goal gradient effects appeal to people more motivated to complete a task when they feel closer to achieving realistic goals. Normative messages persuade people to complete tasks because others are doing it as well. A simple perforated prompt with both preparedness information to complete and a simple to-do list for after a large earthquake also encourages readers to take action.

In November 2017 a contractor was engaged to distribute a copy of the Guide to every household in the Wellington region.

The Guide is currently being translated into 15 different languages by the Red Cross, with assistance from members of various ethnic communities around the region, to ensure that the content is readily available and easy to understand for those for whom English is not their first language.

In August 2017, the WREMO Community Resilience Team were awarded the inaugural Excellence in Emergency Communications Award by Emergency Media and Public Affairs (EMPA) for their work on the Guide.

Whakatāne District Recovery Project Team

Awarded for: the Liveable Homes Project and wider Whakatāne District Recovery

In April 2017, the Whakatāne District was faced with a significant recovery in the aftermath of ex-tropical cyclones Debbie and Cook.

The Whakatāne District Council-led District Recovery Project – Kia Manawanui drew together a strong term of diversely skilled people, driven by the common purpose of efficiently and effectively restoring damaged lives, homes and infrastructure; ever mindful of seizing the opportunities to ‘build back better’ across all the recovery environments.

From day one, Kia Manawanui adopted an approach of integration, partnership and collaboration, exemplified by the establishment of a Recovery Hub which saw multi-sector agencies, stakeholders and staff working open-plan under the same roof. The Hub configuration proved invaluable in quickly building strong relationships across agencies and enabled agility in decision-making and work practices that benefitted the recovery process.

For the first time, Earthquake Commission (EQC) sat within a Recovery Hub. The Whakatāne District Council and EQC collaboration led to a ‘whole town’ clean-up process, providing an effective and efficient approach to ensure one clean-up for residents, regardless of their insurance status. Working in partnership allowed EQC to leverage local knowledge, established relationships with contractors, and ongoing recovery channels to communicate with clients.

The Liveable Homes Project was developed to support those residents who did not have the means to repair their flood-damaged homes. In addition to supporting the wellbeing of affected residents, the project was developed to minimise the escalation of the consequences of the disaster. Without the project it was anticipated that many homes would be abandoned, which would negatively impact community wellbeing and overall real estate values.

The Whakatāne District Recovery Team worked with community funding agencies, the construction industry, and other project partners to bring together a work programme which included a free building consent; strip-out of flood-damaged flooring, floor and wall linings; dry-out; and then installation of insulation, wall linings and kitchen/bathroom cabinets.

The Liveable Homes Project drew on retired professionals who were able to effectively utilise their community mana, and long-established relationships with suppliers and fellow tradespeople to secure funding and donated goods and materials.

In total over $1.4 million was raised from community funding partners, including $440,000 from the Eastern Bay Energy Trust to fund a free home insulation programme which saw over 200 families and individuals return to warmer, safer, healthier homes in affected communities across the district.


2017 Recipients

Tauranga City Council and Tonkin + Taylor Limited

Awarded for: mitigating tsunami risk.

Until recently, thousands of people would have been at risk from a local source tsunami in the Mount Maunganui area However,due to the work of the Council and Tonkin + Taylor, that risk has been substantially reduced.

 More than 46,000 people live on the coastal plain spanning from Mount Maunganui to Papamoa. A tsunami resulting from a local source earthquake could inundate parts of Mauao and Wairakei within 60 minutes or less.

Over the past four years, Tauranga City Council, led by Paul Baunton, has been focussed on building resilience to tsunamis. In 2014, work began with GNS Science undertaking research to quantify the size of a tsunami that could result from a large local source earthquake.

The Council then contracted Tonkin + Taylor to carry out numerical modelling which simulated the flow of a potential tsunami, and identified areas above or outside the inundation zone. Using a Geographic Information Systems model, they were also able to determine how long it would take residents to reach safe areas, how many would use the evacuations routes, and how many would arrive at the various safe areas.

A pedestrian-based evacuation network was developed which lead people to sixteen safe assembly points. Some of these points are located outside the inundation zone, while Vertical Evacuation Structures such as Gordon Spratt Reserve in Papamoa use raised land to protect lives and are the first to be constructed outside of Japan and the Pacific North-West of America. Prominent signage reminds people of the tsunami risk and outlines the likely extent of the inundation size.

Public education has been critical: there have been a number of open days and feedback has been positive.  Further work is planned, including three more Vertical Evacuation Structures in Wairakei, further signage, and additional bridges and evacuation routes.

Congratulations to Tauranga City Council and Tonkin + Taylor Limited. Your work will help to keep your communities safe, and it is my pleasure to present the Director’s Award for Innovation to you tonight.  

2016 Recipients

David Askin

Following the February 2011 earthquakes, David saw a need for communities to be better connected, organised and prepared to help themselves and each other.  David created the Gets Ready software and the Selwyn Gets Ready website.  The website allows users to securely record their household contact details and any special needs, resources and skills they have and are willing to share during an emergency.

David’s local community, Darfield, embraced the system with hundreds of households signing up.  Selwyn District Council recognised the value of David’s website and decided to promote it across the District.  There are now over 5,900 households signed up to Selwyn Gets Ready, that’s around a third of all households in the District.

Selwyn District Council’s Civil Defence Emergency Management team find Selwyn Gets Ready is an invaluable tool to alert Selwyn residents to important information that will directly affect them.  Situation reports from the community can be sent to Selwyn District Council via the website or the mobile app.  This empowers communities to take care of themselves, while providing tools to request help should they need it.

Selwyn Gets Ready was the dream of one community minded man with a vision to help his community become better prepared and connected.  With the help of his community, David has realised that dream.  It fits with the New Zealand system of emergency management in that it allows communities to be involved in the emergency management process and it contributes significantly to community readiness, response and recovery.


RibRaft TC3 was conceptualised on a paper napkin on a flight following a visit to Christchurch in the wake of the devastating 2011 earthquakes.  Realising the idea had real practical appeal, Jon Hambling, Dene Cook, Andrew Moss and Dominic Sutton further developed the concept of an adjustable residential concrete flooring system. Whilst the first project was cast in Christchurch, the RibRaft TC3 system is now being used nationwide on thousands of projects. 

This fully re-levelable twin slab flooring system is a world first.  In the event of a house settling following a strong earthquake, it can readily be re-levelled without removing cladding or internal walls.  The double slab system is stiff and easily resists deformations induced by post-earthquake settlement.  The RibRaft TC3 therefore reduces the risk of earthquake damage and reduces the impact of a disaster on the home occupants by providing resilience.  In case of excessive settlements the upper slab contains cast-in jacks that can be accessed with minimal disruption to the home owners.  The ability to relevel a home quickly and without the need for intrusive and prolonged measures enables rapid emergency response and recovery.

RibRaft TC3 enables homeowners to quickly and readily repair significant damage and continue to live in their home following an emergency.  This innovative solution gives effect, in an evolutionary way, to civil defence emergency management principles supporting families to stay in their home environment. 

The Firth RibRaft TC3 solution provides an excellent and truly innovative building platform that will enable families to continue to occupy their homes, and quickly and cheaply repair significant earthquake damage.