National Emergency Management Agency to replace Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management
The new National Emergency Management Agency will become operational on 1 December 2019. On this day all of the existing
functions and staff of the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management will transfer into the new National Emergency Management Agency and the Ministry will cease to
The National Emergency Management Agency will assume all of the current responsibilities of the Ministry of Civil
Defence & Emergency Management under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002 and National Civil Defence Emergency
Management Plan 2015.
National Emergency Management Agency Chief Executive
The National Emergency Management Agency will be established as an autonomous Departmental Agency with its own Chief
Executive, hosted by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The State Services Commission has advised that in
the first instance a Chief Executive will be appointed for an interim period, with a primary focus on leading the
transition from MCDEM into NEMA, and achieving the strategic shift sought by the government.
The Deputy State Services Commissioner has appointed Carolyn Schwalger as the interim Chief Executive. Carolyn has been
the Programme Director for the NEMA transition since July 2019. Before this role, Carolyn held several senior positions
across New Zealand’s public sector, including the Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative at New Zealand’s
Permanent Mission to the UN and the Principal Capability Adviser and Deputy Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Sarah Stuart-Black will continue in the statutory role as the Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management, bringing
her wealth of operational excellence, skills and relationships to NEMA in that role. Under the Civil Defence Emergency
Management Act 2002 (CDEM Act), the Chief Executive of NEMA and the Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management
cannot be the same person. Therefore, Sarah will become the NEMA Deputy Chief Executive.
National Warnings and Advisories, including tsunami warnings
The National Emergency Management Agency will be responsible for issuing National Warnings and Advisories from the
National Warning System from 1 December 2019.
All agencies, including media, who currently receive National Warnings and Advisories will continue to do so. National
Warnings and Advisories will also continue to be posted to the www.civildefence.govt.nz
website and @NZCivilDefence on Twitter and Facebook.
Local emergency arrangements
The vast majority of emergencies are managed at the local level. This means the local council – or potentially other
lead agencies, such as Police for an armed offender emergency, the Ministry for Primary Industries for a biosecurity or
food safety emergency, or the Ministry of Health for a pandemic emergency – are in charge.
Local authorities (city, district and regional councils or unitary authorities) remain the primary agents responsible
for civil defence emergency management (CDEM). Local authorities within a particular region, or unitary authorities,
form regional CDEM Groups, which work with each other, emergency services and other agencies to reduce risks, be ready
for emergencies, respond when needed, and lead the recovery afterwards..
The establishment of the National Emergency Management Agency does not change current local arrangements. Local
authorities and Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups will remain the primary agents responsible for civil defence