Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says the implementation of a new nationwide channel for sending alerts about emergencies to mobile phones is on track to be up and running by the end of the year.
Cell broadcast alerting is a new way of sending information to mobile phones in a set area without people needing to download an app or subscribe to a service.
“The alerts will appear similar to text messages. They are received automatically and for free by all cell broadcast enabled mobile phones in the area,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Discussions with New Zealand’s major telecommunications companies are progressing well and we expect to have contracts signed in the coming weeks.
“Once the cell broadcast alerting system is up and running, an alert will be sent out to mobile phones through the cell towers in the affected areas in the event of an emergency.
“As no technology is 100 per cent failsafe or equally useful in all conditions and emergencies, multiple channels will continue to be used to send alerts when emergencies happen.
“These channels include radio, television, websites, various social media, smartphone apps, sirens and others.
“A range of alerting methods were assessed before cell broadcast was chosen but this system gives the best combination of reach and reliability in New Zealand’s conditions.
“It will get information about an emergency to at-risk communities faster and more reliably than ever before. Plus, cell broadcast technology is not vulnerable to network overloading, so even when the networks get busy after a disaster, alerts can still be sent quickly.
“The system is well established elsewhere in the world in counties such as the US, Japan, Israel, Chile, the Netherlands and Taiwan.
“Countries including Canada, Peru, the UAE and the Philippines are in the process of implementing cell broadcast alerting.
“The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management and the three mobile network operators – 2degrees, Vodafone and Spark – are working together to enable cell broadcast technology in New Zealand for the first time.
“The Ministry is working alongside the Fire Service, Police, Ministry of Health and Ministry for Primary Industries to develop a system that will work for the whole of government.
“Cell broadcast alerts don’t replace the need for people to pay attention to natural warnings, which is particularly important in the case of earthquakes and potential tsunamis,” Mr Brownlee says.
Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee will be treated to a spectacular display of air power at this weekend’s Royal New Zealand Air Force 2017 Air Tattoo.
“This is a unique opportunity to see all of our Air Force air craft in one place, plus aircraft from militaries all around the world,” says Mr Brownlee.
Mr Brownlee will be at RNZAF Base Ohakea on Sunday, 26 February, to attend the air show, which marks the 80th anniversary of the RNZAF.
He will watch demonstrations by the RNZAF’s newly formed Black Falcons aerobatics team, who will debut at the Tattoo, and other aircraft from the RNZAF and international forces.
Mr Brownlee says the air show is a rare opportunity for the New Zealand public to get a behind-the-scenes look at their Air Force.
“Today’s RNZAF is a highly functioning, professional and versatile Air Force and this is a great chance for people to be able to look through the aircraft and see what the New Zealand Air Force does on a daily basis.
“There will be a total of 64 aircraft at the two-day event.
“I really hope New Zealanders take the opportunity to come and see what their Air Force, and what our international defence partners, can do.
“Aircraft have come from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Japan, New Caledonia, Singapore, and the United States for the event.
“I am delighted to be able to attend the Air Tattoo, and am proud to celebrate the Air Force’s 80 years of service to New Zealand,” says Mr Brownlee.
Mr Brownlee will join tens of thousands of New Zealanders, international visitors, and members of the media at the base.
Tickets are available from Ticketek, www.ticketek.co.nz.
For further information, including a map of road closures and a programme of events, visit www.airtattoo.mil.nz/useful-documents/.
Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says the fires in Christchurch City and the Selwyn District have highlighted the need to streamline New Zealand’s Civil Defence legislation.
On Thursday, Mr Brownlee was scheduled to meet with representatives from all political parties to discuss the Civil Defence response to the Kaikōura earthquake.
He instead travelled to Canterbury to receive updates from the local and regional response teams and survey the blaze from the air.
“In 2016, Parliament passed the Civil Defence Emergency Management Amendment Act. Subsequent to that, the experience of the Kaikōura earthquake, has, in my mind, raised some concerns about the response structures in the Act,” Mr Brownlee says.
“The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management is working to identify lessons and put corrective actions in place following the November 14 event, as it always does after significant disasters.
“However, there is a need for broader consideration of the legislation. I’m hopeful a cross-party approach will be able to consider any improvements that might be made to the Act.
“The fires this week have strengthened the mandate for change. I want to emphasise that I’m not at all criticising the response of those on the ground in both Christchurch City and Selwyn District.
“It’s the way information is reported up the chain and the time it can take to access up-to-date information that has been of most concern for me.
“Clarifying and simplifying the chain of command will help ensure clear lines of communication and effective decision-making in the immediate aftermath of significant events.
“I do believe that states of local emergencies could have been declared earlier but, at the time, I was not in Christchurch and local authorities knew the situation in more detail than I did.
“No Minister has ever declared a state of local emergency over the top of local authorities.
“When it comes to disasters, Parliament doesn’t divide along party lines. All emergency legislation – in response to the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 and the Kaikōura earthquake last year – was passed unanimously.
“Responding to large-scale natural disasters will always be challenging and I have nothing but admiration for the people who put aside their personal lives to help with the emergency response.
“In a country so prone to natural disasters, it’s in everyone’s best interests to ensure we are as resilient and ready to respond as we can be,” Mr Brownlee says.
Civil Defence and Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has requested the New Zealand Defence Force to provide support to local authorities in Christchurch as they deal with the Port Hills fires.
“The Canterbury Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group has offered its assistance to both Selwyn District Council and Christchurch City Council but at this time the councils have not declared a state of local emergency,” Mr Brownlee says.
“At the moment the response to the blazes is being coordinated by Rural Fire, not CDEM, out of the Selwyn District Council.
“The New Zealand Defence Force this afternoon deployed a Liaison Officer to work alongside the Selwyn Rural Fire Authority and to provide timely advice to Defence on what further support they can provide.
“NZDF will send forward logistics personnel and equipment from Burnham Military Camp.
“Engineering equipment, water tankers and manpower options that will support cordons, firebreaks, and firefighters will also be deployed.
“Since yesterday, six NZDF firefighters and two appliances have been assisting in Early Valley Rd, near Kennedy’s Bush southwest of the city,” Mr Brownlee says.
The Office of the Auditor-General report into CERA’s effectiveness must be viewed in the context of New Zealand’s most significant natural disaster, the Minister supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration Gerry Brownlee says.
“I believe the report as a whole is unbalanced at times and doesn’t compare CERA with other recovery agencies or post-disaster experiences worldwide,” Mr Brownlee says.
“After I requested the involvement of the OAG from the early stages of CERA, it’s disappointing that this report only reflects their inability to identify problems earlier.
“CERA was in an evolving post-disaster situation – that included thousands of aftershocks. People were very stressed for a great number of reasons and the report skims over the enormity of this impact on every facet of the community’s recovery.
“The report compares CERA to government departments that have existed for decades and doesn’t recognise the unprecedented nature of the organisation and its tasks.
“The clarity of the role of CERA and relationships with other agencies had to evolve in order for the government to be able to disestablish the organisation and move towards a new regeneration phase after five years, as we committed to.
“The report says CERA’s communications did not meet public expectations, but fails to compare them with the experiences of recovery agencies worldwide, where this is sadly always the case.
“CERA was subject to annual audits, including quality assurance reports, as well as a robust select committee process and was assisted in financial management by Treasury.
“I remain proud of the work CERA staff accomplished alongside other local and central government agencies and they should be too,” Mr Brownlee says.
The restoration of Kaikōura Harbour after last year’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake is expected to be completed by the middle of the year.
Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced progress on the slipway, ramp and channel deepening as a result of the November 14 earthquake lifting the seabed between one and two metres in some areas.
“At the moment access is severely restricted and the harbour channel is so shallow, it can only be used four hours a day – two hours either side of the tide,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Commercial operators can only schedule between 20 per cent and 40 per cent of their previously planned tours and the district’s commercial fishing industry has also been adversely affected.
“The importance of tourism and fishing cannot be underestimated – the annual tourism spend in Kaikōura is $120 million (domestic and international) and the value of the annual fishing catch is approximately $25-30 million.
“The $5 million government grant meant work could start straight away on repairing and upgrading this essential piece of infrastructure.
“Crews have already started to repair the marina and have been clearing and levelling the main commercial slipway. Work has also progressed at the recreational wharf and the Coastguard Kaikōura slipway.
“At the same time the channel into the main harbour is being deepened by dredging out the new sea floor. So far, about 5000 cubic metres of material has been excavated.
“It’s a big job that will result in the channel being two metres deep at low tide and able to be used all day. Work is expected to be complete by mid-year.
“The restoration has safeguards to avoid, remedy or mitigate any impact on the marine environment,” Mr Brownlee says.
Notes to editors:
- The harbour restoration is being funded by a grant of up to $5 million announced in December.
- Three excavators are at work, scooping up the limestone from the seabed to deepen the channel.
- The largest excavator can remove one and half cubic metres per scoop. As the material is scooped up, the excavator lays it down again in front of its path, creating its own path as it moves along. The material will all be removed at the end of the project.
- The diggers can be seen in this recent video posted by Whale Watch Kaikōura.
Attachment: Diggers work to deepen the channel at the entrance of Kaikōura Harbour.
- Kaikoura Harbour Restoration.jpg (jpg 488.51 KB)
Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has today announced $889,000 of funding grants to boost New Zealand’s resilience to natural hazards and their consequences.
Mr Brownlee says the grants are awarded from the 2017 Resilience Fund, an annual fund of $889,000 administered by the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM).
Nine councils and organisations from Northland to Southland have been awarded grants this year.
“The projects include training programmes, tsunami preparedness for schools and early childhood centres, improved waste management in emergencies, and planning for specific hazards, such as a rupture of the Alpine Fault,” Mr Brownlee says.
“New Zealand’s regions are leading some of the resilience work at the coalface of Civil Defence Emergency Management, and this is an opportunity for the government to support and tap into projects that will have flow-on benefits for the rest of the country.
“This will help to improve our understanding of hazards, boost our preparedness to them, and build on the world-leading skills and expertise that New Zealand possesses.”
“The government is committed to improving New Zealand’s resilience to its natural hazards.
“Today’s announcement follows last year’s $6.2 million Budget boost for the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management to support its efforts to ensure New Zealanders are better prepared for emergencies.
“We are also developing a national public alerting system, and have recently announced an additional $3 million investment to boost Geonet’s natural hazards monitoring capability,” Mr Brownlee says.
Notes to editors
Applications for the fund were considered by a moderation panel, with criteria that placed a strong emphasis on improved collaboration, improved resilience at a local and regional level, and promoted consistent approaches.
· $245,000 to Environment Southland for Alpine Fault resilience work. This grant provides the second year of funding of a two-year project to improve understanding of the Alpine Fault rupture.
· $230,000 for the Integrated Training Framework, which provides a platform for the development of national standard training to enhance the competency of staff working in Emergency Operation Centres.
· $100,000 to Bay Of Plenty Regional Council and others to develop a web-based tool for disaster and emergency waste management.
· $89,250 to Stratsim Ltd, to create information infrastructure for the real-time discovery, access and use of the data that needs to be accessed in an emergency.
· $70,000 to Hawke’s Bay Regional Council for the East Coast LAB: Tsunami Safer Schools Preparedness Guide, which will identify early childhood education centres and schools located within tsunami evacuation zones, develop a ‘Tsunami Safer Schools’ tool box and pilot at schools in Gisborne, Napier and Wellington.
· $51,750 to Taranaki Civil Defence Emergency Management Group, for the Taranaki Vulnerability Study, which will develop hazard information and identify regionally critical sites.
· $40,000 to Northland Regional Council, for the Practical Tools for Civil Defence Emergency Management Welfare.
· $40,000 for Waimakariri District Council, to develop a Guide to Effective Local Social Recovery, outlining what is needed for successful social recovery.
· $23,000 to Marlborough Civil Defence Emergency Management Group, to develop the Marlborough Lifelines Regional Fuel Plan, which will address issues relating to lack of fuel supply.
The Resilience Fund is distributed on an annual basis. For full details on the successful applicants, visit: http://www.civildefence.govt.nz/cdem-sector/cdem-resilience-fund/#current
New Zealand and Singapore’s Defence Ministers Gerry Brownlee and Dr Ng Eng Hen today observed Exercise Thunder Warrior, an artillery live-firing exercise at the Waiouru Training Area.
This year marked the 20th anniversary of the Singapore Armed Forces’ (SAF) exercise.
The ministers also conducted the inaugural Singapore-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting.
On behalf of Singapore, Dr Ng thanked the government and people of New Zealand for their strong support in providing opportunities for the SAF to train in New Zealand.
Mr Brownlee and Dr Ng said both nations remained committed to the relationship and looked forward to further opportunities to strengthen defence cooperation.
Building on this positive momentum, Ministers agreed to initiate an annual formal Ministerial meeting to conduct discussions on issues of mutual concern.
The key principles of the 2009 Defence Cooperation Arrangement were endorsed at the ministers’ meeting, particularly that cooperation between like-minded countries on defence and security issues is an essential part of responding effectively to threats to regional peace and stability.
Ministers agreed to explore opportunities for further cooperation between the SAF and NZDF, including training opportunities in New Zealand.
Mr Brownlee and Dr Ng welcomed the establishment of annual Air Force Staff Talks, an Education and Training Working Group and an Operational Working Group, as ways to discuss new cooperation initiatives.
They acknowledged the historical collaboration between Singapore and New Zealand on overseas operations, including in Timor-Leste and Afghanistan.
Mr Brownlee noted that Singapore is New Zealand’s closest defence partner in South East Asia and that New Zealand supported the upcoming counter-terrorism deployment of the Singaporean Armed Forces medical team to Iraq.
Mr Brownlee affirmed New Zealand’s continued commitment to the Five Power Defence Arrangements and ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus framework.
Dr Ng welcomed the Royal New Zealand Navy’s participation of a Naval Task Group to Singapore for Exercise Bersama Shield and the International Naval Review in April 2017.
The Minister supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration Gerry Brownlee says discussions are continuing about the future of the ChristChurch Cathedral.
“The Cathedral Working Group was formed in June to consider restoration options for the earthquake-damaged cathedral,” Mr Brownlee says.
“The group delivered its final recommendation on November 28.
“Proposals from the working group were considered by Cabinet today however discussions continue with the Church Property Trustees.
“Details about what was discussed at Cabinet will remain confidential.
“The story published by Newstalk ZB and the New Zealand Herald this afternoon was wildly inaccurate,” Mr Brownlee says.
A grant of up to $5 million to help with the post-earthquake restoration of Kaikoura Harbour was announced today by Acting Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee and Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce.
“This grant will ensure work can begin as soon as possible to dredge the harbour, which is a pivotal lifeline to the Kaikoura region,” Mr Brownlee says.
“The magnitude 7.8 earthquake on November 14 resulted in the seabed rising between one and two metres in some areas, which has severely restricted access to the region by sea.
“We want to help Kaikoura get back on its feet as quickly as possible, so this grant is another part of the support being provided by the Government towards this goal.”
Mr Joyce says a functioning reliable Kaikoura harbour is crucial to the economic wellbeing of the wider Kaikoura district.
“Tourism operators currently only have a two-hour window at high tide when they can use the harbour, while fisheries who rely on trailer-launched vessels are unable to operate at all,” Mr Joyce says.
“We need to get the harbour restored as soon as possible, to get the blood pumping again in the local economy.
“Kaikoura is a vibrant South Island community, and this grant will help ensure this continues to be the case despite the setback delivered by the recent earthquake.”
Both Ministers say the restoration work planned will incorporate safeguards to ensure any impact on the marine environment is avoided, remedied or mitigated.