The Emergency Management Bill is currently at the Select Committee stage in Parliament. If passed, the Bill will replace the existing Civil Defence Emergency Management Act, which governs our emergency management system.

One of the aims of the Bill is to recognise and enhance the role of Māori in emergency management. Recent weather emergencies have shown the important role that iwi, hapū and marae play in responding to emergencies.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi Principles in the Bill

Section 4 lists all the other sections in the Bill which “recognise and respect the Crown’s responsibility to give effect to the principles of te Tiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi”.

Examples of these include:

  • The creation of a National Māori Emergency Management Advisory Group;
  • Māori representation to local Emergency Management Committees; and
  • The ability for iwi and Māori organisations to be reimbursed for welfare expenses incurred in connection with an emergency.

National Māori Emergency Management Advisory Group

The Bill requires the Minister to establish a National Māori Emergency Management Advisory Group.

The Group’s role is to advise the Director of Emergency Management on Māori interests and knowledge relating to emergency management. This includes advising on policy development, developing guidance, and advising how the National Emergency Management Agency can deliver positive outcomes for Māori in the emergency management system.

However, there is no requirement in the Bill for the Minister to consult with iwi or other Māori groups when making appointments to that Group. Instead, the Minister must consult with Ministers who have portfolio responsibilities relating to Māori development and Māori-Crown relations before making appointments. There is also no requirement for a minimum number of Māori members in the Group.

Emergency Management Committees

Every local authority has an Emergency Management Committee, which have significant roles in preparing for, and responding to, emergencies in their area. This Bill changes the membership requirements of each Committee to include at least one Māori representative, appointed by the Committee.

The regulations governing the appointment process can allow for locally appropriate processes and mechanisms. The Bill also requires the Minister to appoint a Māori member if the Committee fails to do so.

However, the Bill does not require the Minister to consult with iwi or other Māori groups when appointing a Māori member to the Committee. In that situation, the Minister is only required to consult with the Committee and the Director of Emergency Management.

Reimbursement of Welfare Expenses

The Bill allows the Crown to reimburse local authorities for expenses incurred in respect of emergency management activities in connection with an emergency. The Bill also gives the Crown permanent legislative authority to reimburse an iwi or a Māori organisation for expenses they incur in connection with an emergency.

However, the Crown will only reimburse iwi the welfare expenses in relation to emergency management activities. The welfare expenses must meet the criteria for reimbursement outlined in Government policy at the time of the emergency.

Make a submission

The Select Committee stage is an opportunity for people to submit their own thoughts and recommendations about the Bill. You have until 3 November 2023 to make a submission on the Emergency Management Bill.

For more information on the Select Committee process, click here