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Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management

Since 1 April 2014, the Ministry has been a business unit within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC). DPMC leads national security planning. Having the Ministry within DPMC benefits that planning and gives the Ministry a greater role in working across all of government to strengthen national emergency management arrangements.

The Ministry of Civil Defence had been established in 1959 within the Department of Internal Affairs because of that department's responsibility for local government. At that time, the Secretary for Internal Affairs became also the Director of Civil Defence.

Since January 1965 the Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management has been a specific, dedicated position, and continues to be so.

The legislation and arrangements for civil defence have developed since 1959 but the principle that quickly developed, and has continued, is that civil defence is undertaken locally, coordinated regionally, and supported from the national level.

Today, local authorities are the primary agents responsible for civil defence emergency management. They are required by law to plan for and provide civil defence in their area.

Regionally, 16 CDEM Groups are formed from all the local authorities in that region. They work with other agencies to reduce risks, be ready for an emergency, respond when needed and lead recovery afterwards.

At the national level, the Ministry provides policy advice to government, supports CDEM planning and operations, ensures there is coordination at local, regional and national levels, and manages the central government response for large scale civil defence emergencies that are beyond the capacity of local authorities.

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