Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern praised MP Kiritapu Allan during a speech today to the National Emergency Management conference, detailing the reasons as to why she chose Allan to be Emergency Management Minister.
Allan is on a leave of absence as she battles stage three cervical cancer. A six-centimetre-long tumour was discovered in March, the same day she led the country through a tsunami alert and massive evacuation.
The PM told the conference this morning that there was a lot of factors to consider when choosing a person for the emergency management portfolio..
"Their temperament in a crisis, connection to people and community, and, of course, their ability to spur into action no matter what time of day or night it is," Ardern listed.
"In her time as Minister for Emergency Management, Kiritapu proved what I already knew: She is incredibly determined, and carries a huge sense of responsibility in all she does.
"When severe weather and floods hit Napier, she was there, not just looking at damage but literally moving it as she joined the clean-up," Ardern said, referencing the November floods.
"In March as we were threatened with a possible tsunami, and the biggest evacuation in New Zealand’s history, she was there, alongside many of you, communicating a plan clearly and concisely.
"All the while dealing with her own health issues," Ardern said.
Allan, who represents the East Coast district in Parliament, last week finished chemotherapy and began internal radiation.
Ardern went on to speak to the conference today about recent disasters and the emergency management response to Covid-19, as well as the Government seeking "ambitious" reform in the sector.
That included the first major overhaul of emergency management laws in 19 years and a "refresh" of the national emergency management plan.
Ardern also spoke about the role Māori play in emergency management.
"I’ve had more than one experience now, of marae and iwi opening their doors and providing rapid response and support when disaster has struck," Ardern said. "When iwi mobilise to extend manaatikanga, they do it not only for Māori but for all people who find themselves in distress.
"Following the eruption of Whakaari White Island, local iwi rallied around victims’ families.
"Following the March 15 mosque attacks, Ngāi Tahu and local rūnanga Ngāi Tūāhūriri stood alongside the Christchurch Muslim community during their grieving and burial processes."
She said the Government's goal should be to build partnerships with Māori roopū, local government and central government "more reliably across the system".
New Zealand's emergency management agency was given $46 million during Budget 2021.