'Need to look at that chain of command' - Gerry Brownlee establishes advisory group to improve structure of Civil Defence

Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has revealed he's established an advisory group to look into the structure of Civil Defence, saying "I think there is a need to look at that chain of command."

The Minister has been critical over the handling of disasters, particularly the Port Hills fire in February, when he lashed out over the time it took to declare a State of emergency in Christchurch, as huge fires muscled towards the city.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel and Mr Brownlee were at loggerheads during the disaster over when a State of emergency should have been declared.  

Speaking on TVNZ's Q+A programme this morning, Mr Brownlee said he has established a Technical Advisory Group to identify where improvements in New Zealand's Civil Defence structure could be made. 

Minister Gerry Brownlee has been critical over the handling and lines of communication during Christchurch’s Port Hills Fire. Source: Q+A

"That group comprises people from police, from Defence, from Civil Defence and the fire service and they will consult with other services that are required to act in the circumstances of a civil emergency and also look at that structure to see how it works and how it might be improved," he said. 

"If you think back to the 50's communication is not as easy as it is today and it sometimes strikes me as a little odd that you are getting better news of an immediate situation from media outlets than you are getting in situation reports," he said. 

"I think the key to it though is the whole structure of how a civil emergency is declared and then what are the authorities, anybody who has responsibility in that carries."

The first meeting of the Technical Advisory Group will be in the week commencing 22 May. 

Minister Gerry Brownlee has made no secret that he sees flaws in the system and he wants them ironed out. Source: 1 NEWS

'We are very aware of the debt we owe to those who have gone before us' - daily Last Post Ceremony honours fallen soldiers

The Last Post Ceremony at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park is remembering a fallen World War One soldier each and every night. 

At Pukeahu National War Memorial Park those who served NZ are being remembered every day. Source: Q+A

Once a year, Anzac Day focuses thoughts on those who served their country and particularly the 30,000 New Zealanders who lost their lives in conflicts.

But they are remembered every day in a corner of Wellington, from Anzac Day 2015 to Armistice Day 2018 a Last Post Ceremony is held at the national war memorial.

Members of the public are invited to read the Ode to the Fallen or even play the Last Post.

Pukeahu Park is a popular space in Wellington, and the National War Memorial that New Zealand focuses on the sacrifice of the war dead.

Q + A reporter Whena Owen went along to meet the Ode readers last week.

Wellingtonian, Mata Taramai was the civilian reading the ode in Cook Islands Maori and Te Reo last week.

"I've just got to remember my lines and say it properly now I'm saying it on TV or the aunties will clip my ears," he said.

Wing Commander Michelle White read the ode in English.

"I always think of my mum and dad and I hope if they are looking down that they will be proud of me. They are connected to the grandparents that I want to pay tribute to here today," she said.

From Anzac Day 2014, the Defence Force with the Culture and Heritage Ministry decided to mark the centenary of every day of the First World War with the Last Post Ceremony and reading of the Ode in Te Reo and English.

"We are very aware of the debt we owe to those who have gone before us and this is a symbol of that commitment," said New Zealand Defence Force historian, John Crawford. 

Mr Taramai was participating in the ceremony last week for three Rarotongan relatives, and his great-grandfather was laid to rest in Rarotonga. 

He was one of 500 Cook Island men who joined the New Zealand expeditionary Force, mainly in the Middle East, they were renowned for their skill in handling supply boats.

"There are no ports on Sinai Coast and Palestine so Cook Islanders landed the boats and that of course was what they were expert at. They set all sorts of records handling ammunitions because they could handle these shells better than anyone else," said Mr Crawford.

Every Ode reader has a personal reason for reading, whether or not they are related to someone who served.

"At the going down of the sun, we will remember them, we will remember them," the Ode reads. 


Seven people injured, one critically, after 4WD flips in Christchurch

Seven people have been taken to Christchurch Hospital, one with critical injuries, after a 4WD flipped when driving on a bend. 

Police were called to the crash scene past Scotts Reserve, about 5 kilometres from Dyers Pass Road, shortly after 2am today. 

The other passengers suffered broken bones. 

The Serious Crash Unit has been advised. 

Source: 1 NEWS