From Cold War to Canterbury: The New Zealand Experience in Emergency Management
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
In this dissertation it is argued that the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority were both necessary and inevitable given the trends and traditions of civil defence emergency management (CDEM) in New Zealand. The trends and traditions of civil defence are such that principles come before practice, form before function, and change is primarily brought about through crisis and criticism. The guiding question of the research was why were a new governance system and law made after the Canterbury earthquakes in 2010 and 2011? Why did this outcome occur despite the establishment of a modern emergency management system in 2002 which included a recovery framework that had been praised by international scholars as leading edge and a model for other countries? The official reason was the unprecedented scale and demands of the recovery – but a disaster of such scale is the principle reason for having a national emergency management system. Another explanation is the lack of cooperation among local authorities – but that raises the question of whether the CDEM recovery framework would have been successful in another locality. Consequentially, the focus of this dissertation is on the CDEM recovery framework and how New Zealand came to find itself making disaster law during a disaster. Recommendations include a review of emergency powers for recovery, a review of the capabilities needed to fulfil the mandate of Recovery Managers, and the establishment of a National Recovery Office with a cadre of Recovery Managers that attend every recovery to observe, advise, or assume control as needed. CDEM Group Recovery Managers would be seconded to the National Recovery Office which would allow for experience in recovery management to be developed and institutionalised through regular practice.