Roles and responsibilities for building emergency management

Last updated: 3 July 2024

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.

Building management in an emergency requires having coordinated arrangements in place that involve:

  • building owners
  • territorial authorities
  • Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Groups
  • agencies 
  • building professionals.

These arrangements include preparing for future emergencies, responding when emergencies occur and recovery.
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.

Summary of building emergency management roles and responsibilities

MBIE's responsibilities for building emergency management

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.

MBIE's building emergency management responsibilities include:

  • coordinating national building management support in designated areas, in consultation with CDEM Groups, relevant agencies and professional bodies, as required
  • providing support and advice to the National Controller and the National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC) on building safety matters 
  • providing policy advice to the Government on building safety matters
  • creating and coordinating the national rapid building assessment training programme for building professionals who assess buildings during and after an emergency, including maintaining processes, mobilisation arrangements and internal registers of Rapid Building Assessors (RBAs) across Aotearoa/New Zealand
  • providing guidance on how rapid building assessments should be carried out, and who they should be carried out by, by providing resources for RBAs to use including assessment forms and placards/notices
  • advise the Government, during recovery after an emergency, on the requirements for facilitating the efficient and effective recovery of building stock and functions.

If there is a local state of emergency, MBIE can provide support to territorial authorities where requested. This could include advice on designations, and coordinating the mobilisation and deployment of RBAs and specialist staff (eg engineers).

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

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

In this situation MBIE has several building management roles and responsibilities, including:

  • monitoring the event and response
  • reporting to the Minister for Building and Construction
  • providing liaison officers to the 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 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 specialist MBIE staff and Tier 1 Technical Leads to deploy to the field (to lead the 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 – eg maps, to target areas of the highest need
  • deploy RBAs (including Tier 1 Technical Leads) where additional support is required  
  • coordinate the mobilisation and deployment of RBAs where requested by territorial authorities
  • 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 authorities of ministerial decisions
  • help facilitate consultation with required parties in the event of a request for the whole/partial removal of a heritage building.

Responsibilities of territorial authorities

When an emergency occurs that causes damage to buildings, MBIE helps territorial authorities manage resources to protect lives, buildings, and infrastructure.

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, such as:

  • 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

Guidance for managing buildings in an emergency

Related information

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: