Former Police commander will help protect the region in emergencies
A former police district commander will be taking a key role in readying the region for major emergencies.
John Thurston has been appointed as project manager for a new joint committee given the task of preparing an emergency
management strategy for the Bay of Plenty. Set up in June, the Civil Defence Emergency Management Group includes six of
the region’s mayors and Environment Bay of Plenty chairman John Cronin.
The group’s chairman Graeme Weld, who is western Bay of Plenty mayor, says Mr Thurston’s main job will be to develop a
regional emergency management plan.
Mr Thurston served with the New Zealand Police for 36 years. He was district commander in Wanganui, Hamilton and
Waikato. His varied career has included a stint at Scott Base in the Antarctic, Diplomatic Protection Squad duty, time
as a police college instructor, and service in Namibia as part of the United Nationals Peacekeeping Force.
Until recently, New Zealand’s regional councils had regional responsibility for civil defence. Under the new Civil
Defence Emergency Management Act 2002, that job has been taken up by the new joint committee. It is advised by various
local authority chief executives and the emergency services.
Mr Weld says the new legislation encourages greater regional coordination and cooperation. “All the region’s councils,
including the regional council, are working together in a cooperative manner to make sure we are well prepared to deal
with any emergency,” he says.
The legislation also requires more in-depth community consultation, which he hopes will encourage local communities to
become more aware of, and committed to, effective civil defence emergency management.
Under the new act, all hazards – not just natural hazards – must be considered, including earthquakes, eruptions,
serious fires, major gas leaks, or war. There will be more emphasis on risk reduction and being prepared for disasters.