Roles and responsibilities for building emergency management

When a damage-causing emergency occurs, it's critical that territorial authorities are able to quickly mobilise the right resources to protect lives, buildings, public thoroughfares and critical infrastructure.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is one of several agencies with legal obligations, roles, and responsibilities for building management in emergency situations. MBIE has a stewardship responsibility for building management in emergencies and can play a significant role at a national coordination level when an emergency occurs – from the initial response right through to recovery.

MBIE has legal obligations, roles and responsibilities under the National Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Plan Order 2015 and the Building Act 2004. Both legislative vehicles require MBIE to have systems and functions to be in place in the event of an emergency.

Under these legislative vehicles MBIE's building emergency management responsibilities include:

  • coordinating national building management support for designated areas, in consultation with CDEM, relevant agencies and professional bodies, as required
  • provide national co-ordination of building management support to a CDEM Group when requested by the Director or the National Controller
  • lead rapid building assessment functions in a state of national emergency
  • advise and report on operational building management needs and options to the Director or the National Controller
  • provide building management policy advice to the Government as requested
  • providing guidance on how rapid building assessments should be carried out, and who they should be carried out by
  • providing resources for Rapid Building Assessors (RBAs) to use including assessment forms and placards/notices
  • the training and qualification of building professionals to assess buildings during and after an emergency. In practice this is referred to as ‘the rapid building assessment training programme’.
  • maintaining processes, mobilisation arrangements and internal registers of Rapid Building Assessors across Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • lead the securing and management of compromised building sites for forensic investigations
  • advise the Government, during recovery after an emergency, on the requirements for facilitating the efficient and effective recovery of building stock and functions.

Under a National State of Emergency, some of MBIE's roles for building emergency management change at the request of the National Controller in the National Crisis Management Centre.

MBIE's roles and responsibilities under a National State of Emergency

MBIE has several building management roles and responsibilities in a National State of Emergency, including:

  • monitoring the event and response
  • reporting to the Minister of Building and Construction
  • providing liaison officers to the National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC)
  • leading rapid building assessment functions.

More specifically, MBIE may also:

  • advise and report on operational building management needs and options to the Director National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) or the National Controller
  • appoint a liaison officer to the National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC), which facilitates the central government crisis management response
  • collate the notification of designations, which provides a system and powers for managing buildings after an emergency (new and 90-day reviews)
  • identify MBIE and Tier 1 technical specialists to deploy to field (to lead rapid building assessment function) – a Tier 1 assessor is a national resource capable of leading an assessment operation
  • support collection of intelligence (from building owners) in designated areas
  • prepare intelligence documents – for example, maps, to target areas of the highest need
  • mobilise and deploy volunteers to support building management
  • lead the securing and management of compromised building sites for forensic investigations, including developing and giving notice of investigations
  • give advice, support, and engage with district councils or building consent authorities who are leading responses, as well as formally notify territorial authority of ministerial decisions
  • help facilitate consultation with required parties in the event of a request for the whole/partial removal of a heritage building.

Powers to manage buildings after an emergency

Part 2, Subpart 6B of the Building Act 2004 provides an end-to-end process for managing buildings following an emergency event. The provisions provide:

  • powers to civil defence emergency management group controllers, recovery managers and territorial authorities to manage buildings after an emergency event
  • certainty to building owners and occupiers about how the safety of their buildings will be managed after an emergency
  • for MBIE and NEMA to receive notifications of Designations and facilitate the notifications to the National Controller, Minister for Emergency Management, and Minister for Building & Construction.

Responsibilities of Territorial Authorities

Under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002 (CDEM Act), territorial authorities are required to plan for civil defence emergency management in consultation with their communities, and in collaboration with emergency services and lifeline utilities. Territorial authorities roles and responsibilities for Building Management are detailed in Section 15 of the National CDEM Plan Order 2015 [PDF 98KB] -

As part of this, territorial authorities must develop and maintain arrangements to ensure they are ready to respond to an emergency and lead recovery work to achieve the building emergency management objective of the National Civil Defence Emergency Management Plan:

  • Protect life and promote safety within and in the vicinity of each building
  • Minimise damage to and loss of property
  • Restore building functions as soon as possible to minimise social and economic consequences of the emergency
  • Minimise losses or disruption of lifeline utility services that are in or near any building.

In the case of a designation, rather than rely on the powers of the CDEM Act, the Building Act provides a flexible system and additional tools to territorial authorities to manage buildings following an emergency event.

Resources for decision-makers and territorial authorities

Related information

Forms covering Building Act powers for managing buildings in an emergency

Guidance for managing buildings in an emergency

Related legislation

This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: