North Island Severe Weather Events Response Internal Operational Lessons Report

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has published its internal review report of its operational response to the North Island Severe Weather Events of early 2023.

Read the final report.

It is standard practice for NEMA to conduct an internal review of its operational response after emergency events and exercises. Each emergency event is unique and presents an opportunity to identify lessons to improve our readiness, response and recovery capability for the future.

NEMA’s acting Chief Executive Jenna Rogers, says, “This report provides us with an opportunity for reflection, and for us to reach out to our colleagues across the emergency management system and share what we have identified – including those things that went well and where improvements are needed.”

We acknowledge that local communities are still recovering and will wear the scars of these events for some time. Our thoughts are with the whānau of the fifteen people who tragically lost their lives during these events.

We also acknowledge and recognise the efforts and sacrifices of all those who worked on the response. These were challenging events, that stretched the entire emergency management system’s capabilities and capacity, but everyone involved put in an extraordinary effort to support our communities and each other. Thank you.

NEMA’s review was internally focused on the functional capacity of the systems, processes, internal policies, people capability and infrastructure used and/or directed by NEMA during the response.

The review drew on inputs from NEMA’s own staff that were validated by Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups and other agencies that were involved in the response and early recovery planning.

Some of the key lessons include:

  • Science, intelligence and geospatial capability and capacity need to be enhanced to build situational awareness and support decision making during emergencies.
  • There continues to be a need for a shared, system-wide “single source of the truth” (Common Operating Picture).
  • The NCC/NCMC facility is not fit for purpose especially for a response of this scale. NEMA and NCC/NCMC IT was not reliable.
  • Deployment of emergency management professionals into the regions was vital to support emergency response operations at local and regional levels.
  • NEMA should build on the selection, training and exercising for emergency management sector deployments to grow capability and capacity to meet future demand.
  • NEMA’s well-established relationships across the all-of-government network, and internationally, served us well in our lead agency capacity.

“Every response is a chance for us to further refine the way we do things, and we’re already implementing the lessons we identified from this event,” said Ms Rogers,

“This includes a requirement for NEMA staff to devote twenty per cent of their time to strengthening their operational readiness and streamlining the deployment process for surging staff into impacted areas.

“This year’s Rū Whenua Alpine Fault exercise will provide an opportunity to put those improvements into practice.”

Note: NEMA’s review was separate to the Government Inquiry into the Response to the North Island Severe Weather Events which had a broader focus to ensure that the design of New Zealand’s emergency management system is appropriate to support readiness for, and responses to, future emergency events. The Report of the Government Inquiry is available at

Published: May 16, 2024, 7:39 AM