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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Organisational Structure and Functions

The New Zealand civil defence organisation follows the United Kingdom and Australian schemes with appropriate modifications. It provides for a threetier system of control:

National: The Government through the Ministry of Civil Defence exercises national control. It also carries out national planning with the assistance of advisory committees representative of the armed services, Government Departments, local authorities' organisations, and voluntary bodies. They advise on certain aspects of planning, technical matters, and training procedures. In a national emergency the Director of Civil Defence and his staff, with the assistance of the National Civil Defence Committee, would act in both an advisory and executive capacity.

Regional: There are three civil defence regions—northern, comprising the upper half of the North Island; central, comprising the lower half of the North Island; and southern, which comprises the South Island. Regional commissioners are based at Auckland, Palmerston North, and Christchurch respectively. These officers provide liaison with local authorities, advising and assisting them in establishing local units. In a major emergency the regional commissioners direct action within a particular area. They are assisted by the Regional Civil Defence Committee, which comprises a group of senior Government district officers and a fire service officer. The primary function of this Committee in a major disaster is to plan the effective coordination of Government and other essential public services within each region, in support of local civil defence organisations.

Local: Local authorities, acting individually or in groups, are responsible for establishing local civil defence corps as operational units. Each corps is composed of five sections: headquarters, warden, rescue, welfare, and casualty.

Agencies such as the armed services, police, and other relevant Government Departments and the fire service, hospitals, and public utilities work in close liaison with these local units. The Ministry encourages local authorities to group on a subregional basis for the better integration of emergency services and the effective implementation of mutual aid. National planning also envisages industrial civil defence units in establishments which have sufficient employees. These units will follow closely the United Kingdom pattern.

by George Caird Row, B.COM., C.I.S. Civil Defence Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.