The government is investing $5.2 million for specialist ‘fly-in teams’ to respond in civil defence emergencies, Civil Defence Minister Kris Faafoi announced today.
Mr Faafoi said in a speech that the government response needed to be robust to ensure people and communities were protected in emergencies.
The response comes after a Ministerial Technical Advisory Group (TAG) that was set up following the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake and the Port Hills fires in Christchurch last year.
"Our investment in rapid response teams, known as fly-in teams, signals the start of a multi-year transformative work programme that will significantly improve our emergency response system," he said.
"Fly-in teams will people with the appropriate skills and experience, including event controllers, to go wherever required, without delay, to work alongside and support the local team to ensure a comprehensive and immediate response is underway."
TAG recognised that current systems needed a number of improvements to meet today’s challenges despite being fundamentally sound, Mr Faafoi said.
Therefore, additional funding of $1 million will also be invested in other systems including $400,00 in common operating picture across the sector, $400,000 on work on required legislative changes and $250,000 in a new emergency management facility.
“We’re seeing a growing number of events and risks in a complex environment and that demands that we clarify, strengthen, modernise and professionalise our response."
"We’ve also seen in the past nine years New Zealand’s ability to respond to emergencies has changed considerably – there’s new technology, new ways of working, and learnings from the experiences and challenges we have faced."
Mr Faafoi said the review was not any reflection on the contribution of the volunteers and professionals who respond to emergencies while adding that partnerships with local government and iwi would continue to play a major role in civil defence.
“Local government has a major role to play in lifting the system and has made a significant contribution to help us get to where we have today,” he said.
“Many others, particularly iwi, also play a significant role and their contributions have also been instrumental. These partnerships will remain critical and valued as we continue to progress all of this work.”