Civil Defence

NZ Army personnel assist with aid, equipment and supplies to provide ongoing support in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Pam.

The NZ Army is well known for its assistance in civil emergencies. Transport, security, search and rescue and providing shelter and basic supplies are just some of the aspects where the Army is able to assist civil authorities.

Unless specific authority is conferred by proclamation, the NZ Defence Force has no legal authority to initiate Civil Defence and Emergency Management (CDEM) action in support of a civil power. Statutory power to declare a State of Emergency rests with nominated local officials, certain emergency management agencies, and the NZ police where there is threat to life or property. Accordingly, the NZ Defence Force becomes involved in CDEM only on request from the appropriate authorities.

Headquarters staff and units with CDEM contingency tasks have notice to move timings, which determine how soon they must be available to deploy.

Usually elements are required to be able to respond within 48 hours. A "warning order" would initiate preparation for deployment, so that by the time a request for Army assistance was received, the required response team would be ready to go.

Some emergency situations may develop with little or no warning. In such circumstances, some level of immediate response would be available.

How has the Army responded in the past?

Capt Deborah Blythan being winched up to Iroquois with young child trapped by the rising flood waters at the township of Whangaehu. In February 2004, NZ Army emergency teams assisted with the emergency evacuation of flood victims in the Lower North Island, after persistently bad weather reeked havoc in the area.

In October 1998, due to heavy rain the Whanganui River's stop banks burst. The NZ Army assisted to evacuate 60 houses in the area, securing the evacuated homes, assisting authorities in maintaining public health and safety and provided ad-hoc catering and transport support.

At the same time in October 1998, floods devastated the small township of Ohura, near Taumarunui. 24 personnel from Linton Military Camp left an exercise in Waiouru and headed for Ohura with supplies of water, ration packs and blankets.

This page was last amended on 23 March 2015