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Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (New Zealand)

The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM; Māori: Te Rākau Whakamarumaru) is the public service department of New Zealand responsible for providing leadership and support around national, local and regional emergencies. Originally established within the Department of Internal Affairs in 1959,[2] it now operates as a business unit of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management
Te Rākau Whakamarumaru
Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (New Zealand) (emblem).png
Agency overview
FormedJuly 1999[1]
Preceding agencies
  • Ministry of Civil Defence
  • Ministry for Emergency Management
JurisdictionNew Zealand
HeadquartersBowen House, Wellington
41°16′47″S 174°46′31″E / 41.279794°S 174.775330°E / -41.279794; 174.775330
Minister responsible
Agency executives
  • Sarah Stuart-Black, Director
  • David Coetzee, National Controller
Parent agencyDepartment of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (New Zealand)
Child agency

The Ministry reports to the Minister of Civil Defence, currently Peeni Henare.[3]


No formal civil defence or emergency management structure existed in New Zealand until the 1930s, when the increasing threat of war prompted the formation of the Emergency Precautions Scheme, which was controlled by the Department of Internal Affairs.[2] In addition to war, earthquake risk was another concern of the Scheme, prompted in part by the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake. During World War II, the name of the EPS was changed to Civil Defence. While EPS/Civil Defence did not need to respond to any invasion attempts, it was twice called upon to assist with earthquake recovery efforts in Wellington and the Wairarapa region in 1942.

Following the war, responsibility for civil defence was assumed by the Department of Internal Affairs. A Review of Defence white paper, issued by the Second Labour Government amid the fear of nuclear war, proposed the establishment of a separate Ministry of Civil Defence. The first Director of Civil Defence was J.V. Meech (also the Secretary of Internal Affairs), though in practice much of the work was delegated to Andrew Sharp; the first Minister of Civil Defence in the post-war period was Bill Anderton (also the Minister of Internal Affairs). The Civil Defence Act 1962 set out in legislation the responsibilities and duties of the Ministry. In 1964, the first full-time Director of Civil Defence was appointed: Brigadier R.C. Queree.

A new Ministry for Emergency Management was established under the National/New Zealand First Coalition Government by Civil Defence Minister Jack Elder on 1 July 1999, following the Review of Emergency Services.[4][5][6] This replaced the existing Ministry of Civil Defence.[7] Later, the department name changed again to become the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management, its current title.

The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management moved from the Department of Internal Affairs to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet on 1 April 2014.[8] This was intended to reflect DMPC's role as the government's lead agency in national security planning.[9]


The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management administers the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002 and:[10]

  • provides advice to government on civil defence emergency management matters
  • identifies hazards and risks
  • develops, maintains and evaluates the effectiveness of the civil defence emergency management strategic framework
  • ensures coordination at local, regional, and national levels
  • promotes civil defence emergency management and deliver public awareness about how to prepare for, and what to do in, an emergency
  • supports civil defence emergency management sector capability development, planning and operations, including developing guidelines and standards
  • monitors and evaluates the performance of the 16 regional Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups
  • maintains and operates the National Crisis Management Centre, including the maintenance of a duty team to staff the Centre, and issue warnings and public information
  • manages the central government response to, and recovery from, large scale emergencies resulting from geological (earthquakes, volcanic unrest, landslides, tsunami), meteorological (coastal hazards, floods, severe winds, snow) and infrastructure failure.

List of Ministers of Civil DefenceEdit


  National   Labour   NZ First   Mauri Pacific

No. Name Portrait Term of Office Prime Minister
1 William Bodkin   30 June 1942 2 October 1942 Fraser
(in the War Administration)
2 David Wilson   30 October 1942 12 April 1944 Fraser
1944–1959: See Minister of Internal Affairs
3 Bill Anderton   1959 12 December 1960 Nash
4 Leon Götz   12 December 1960 20 December 1963 Holyoake
5 David Seath   20 December 1963 9 February 1972
6 Allan Highet   9 February 1972 8 December 1972 Marshall
7 Tom McGuigan   8 December 1972 10 September 1974 Kirk
8 Henry May   10 September 1974 12 December 1975 Rowling
(6) Allan Highet   12 December 1975 26 July 1984 Muldoon
9 Peter Tapsell   26 July 1984 24 August 1987 Lange
10 Michael Bassett   24 August 1987 9 February 1990
11 Margaret Austin   9 February 1990 2 November 1990
12 Graeme Lee   2 November 1990 29 November 1993 Bolger
13 Warren Cooper   29 November 1993 1 March 1996
14 John Banks   1 March 1996 1 November 1996
15 Murray McCully   1 November 1996 16 December 1996
16 Jack Elder   16 December 1996 10 December 1999
17 George Hawkins   16 December 1999 19 October 2005 Clark
18 Rick Barker   19 October 2005 19 November 2008
19 John Carter   19 November 2008 8 June 2011 Key
20 Craig Foss   8 June 2011 14 December 2011
21 Chris Tremain   14 December 2011 30 January 2013
22 Nikki Kaye   30 January 2013 20 December 2016
23 Gerry Brownlee   20 December 2016 2 May 2017
24 Nathan Guy   2 May 2017 26 October 2017
25 Kris Faafoi   26 October 2017 27 June 2019 Ardern
26 Peeni Henare   27 June 2019 present


  1. ^ "Briefing for Incoming Minister : Civil Defence" (PDF). October 2005. Retrieved 2015-09-20.
  2. ^ a b Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (1990). "Civil Defence in New Zealand: A Short History" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 August 2017.
  3. ^ "Ministerial List". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  4. ^ Shirley Mattingly (2007). "Policy, Legal and Institutional Arrangements" (PDF). Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  5. ^ Jack Elder (5 August 1999). "New moves to protect communities". Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  6. ^ "Vote Emergency Management" (PDF). 2003. p. 516. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  7. ^ "Valedictory statement of Hon Jack Elder". 7 October 1999. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  8. ^ Nikki Kaye (31 March 2014). "Civil defence moves to Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet". Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  9. ^ Jonathan Coleman; Nikki Kaye (19 November 2013). "MCDEM shift will strengthen emergency management and resilience". Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  10. ^ "About the Ministry". Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management. Archived from the original on 15 June 2017. Retrieved 19 September 2017.

External linksEdit