Archive for the ‘Civil Defence’ Category

Warning About Storm-Damaged Trees: They Are Dangerous – Media Statement From WDC

17 September 2013

Waimakariri District Council staff and contractors are mounting a campaign to advise people of the high risk attached in going into or near any treed areas, following an assessment this week of the scope and extent of damage after last Tuesday’s windstorm across Canterbury.

The beach access areas at Waikuku, Woodend and Pines Beach/Kairaki have been assessed as areas of extreme risk and the public is being asked to stay well away from any treed or forested areas. Contractors are currently working to mitigate the overhead risk by bringing broken branches to the ground. Following that work will start on exposed holes in the ground from trees being uprooted by the wind and also on exposed roots.

The gathering of firewood from tree damage by members of the public is strictly prohibited and presents an increased level of risk. The Council’s Rural Fire Officer Tim Sheppard says that a lot of the trees and branches are under strong tension and are likely to snap without warning. “Anyone going near these with a chainsaw is literally taking their life in their hands”, he said. “It might look like a fairly innocent fallen branch but if it breaks under tension it acts like a loaded spring

– the chances of very serious injury to anyone near these branches are very high”. Contractors are taping off risk areas this week and, until that work is complete, the public is advised to treat all treed parts of the area as extremely dangerous. Signage at entry and exit points is also being organised and the signs should be erected by the end of this week.

People with damage to fences from fallen branches and trees area are also advised against trying to clear up themselves. “There is also a risk of injury with that”, says Sheppard “and, while we need to work through the most at risk areas first, we will be attending to those as soon as possible”.

Contractors will be working along the 100 metre wide ‘protection forest’ down the coast from Waikuku to Kairaki, reducing the risk hazard as they go. Te Kohaka O Tuhaitara Reserve is closed to the public until further notice, although contractors are currently clearing a fire track through there to allow fire crews and equipment access to the reserve in case of fire.

While fire danger currently is not high, Rural Fire Officer Tim Sheppard says that situation could change with the onset of summer and drier, warmer conditions. “It therefore becomes vital that we attend to excess fallen wood urgently. We need to restore the forest areas to a state where they present the least fire risk during the summer”.

The Council is mounting a comprehensive public warning campaign about the risks of fallen trees in local newspapers, on radio, online and in a maildrop campaign, targeting neighbouring residents.

For more information contact: Rory Christie Communications Adviser Phone: 03 311 8900 or 03 327 6834 Email:

Anyone going near these trees with a chainsaw is literally taking their life in their hands.

We Had Weather Today in Waimakariri

20 June 2013

The weather has continued to give Waimakariri District problems.

Today a Civil Defence Sector Post was set up at Fernside School after the Cust River went over its banks. Fortunately, no houses were affected.  A close watch is also being kept on the Dockey Creek, which flows through Fernside. Late this afternoon, the Dockey was OK.

Water has entered a few houses since Monday, for example in western Kaiapoi.

It snowed in the Oxford area and other higher parts of the District today.


Civil Defence Snowstorm Workshops Coming

5 June 2013

This coming Saturday, 8 June 2013, two workshops will be held in the Waimakariri District as part of Exercise Pandora, an annual Civil Defence Exercise which this year simulates a major snowstorm. One workshop will be held at Ant Dale’s  beef and lamb farm at 211 Ashley Gorge Road from 10.00am to 1.00pm and the other at Geoff Sparks’ dairy farm 1018 Harewood Road (Fonterra Marker 37738) from 1.00pm to 3.oopm.

130608 Exercise Pandora

Why We Need to Have Strong Town Centres in Kaiapoi and Rangiora

29 March 2013

Follow this link to an article in The Press earlier this month:

Note that GNS Science calculates that there is a 30% chance of an earthquake on the Alpine Fault in the next 50 years.


Earthquake Service Awards Made in Waimakariri

30 August 2012

On Wednesday night at the Kaiapoi Rugby Club, a further 43 groups and individuals were awarded service certificates by the Waimakariri community for all that they had done, both within the Waimakariri District (especially Kaiapoi and Pines-Kairaki) and in Christchurch after the February quake.

This followed a similar number of awards a couple of months ago. They ranged from people who had supported the elderly to people who had acted as community advocates to others who had helped at the CTV building from Day One. Many are still working actively in the recovery phase that we all know has a long way to go.

The Waimakariri community is indebted to them.

At both times, public nominations were invited, but if anybody thinks people have been missed, please let us know.

Remember This?

The “Kaiapoi” Fault – What’s the Story?

7 January 2012

I went to the GNS Science briefing yesterday to hear about the latest flurry of aftershocks.  And yes, the 5.2 at 1.21 a.m. this morning did wake me up.

The “Kaiapoi” Fault is the new name for the one they’ve discovered under the sea off the Waimakariri mouth.  It does not pass underneath Kaiapoi.

Most of the recent aftershocks have been out to sea and although they are trending north-east, they aren’t affecting this fault.  The seismologists told us that the Kaiapoi Fault has been active periodically in geological time which means that there has been a progressive release of stress along it.  That should be good news for us in North Canterbury because that release of stress means that it is less likely to be a big one if the fault ruptures.

We are likely to continue to get aftershocks in this part of Canterbury for many years, although as time goes on they will become imperceptible.  Aftershocks from the 1968 Inangahua quake are still going on.

The aftershocks experienced in the Oxford area after the September earthquake were not unexpected.  Apparently the Mount Oxford area is quite seismologically active and, once again, the periodic release of stress is a good thing.

None of this, of course, takes away the very real threat to the region of the Alpine Fault, which is on the boundary of the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates.

Why are Waimakariri and Selwyn Under CERA?

16 May 2011

CERA – the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (or Act – take your pick) is the new acronym that we will be living with for some time. It is due to expire after five yeas. Everybody seems to be pronouncing it “Sarah”.

In some ways, Waimakariri and Selwyn might have been able to get by without it, but both Councils decided that there were some potential advantages for us – even although our damage mostly came in the September earthquake.

The Act gives the Authority powers that might need to be used as we in Waimakariri undertake land remediation on behalf of the the Government and EQC. We also didn’t want to be forgotten about as CERA tackled the horrific damage in Christchurch caused by the February ‘quake.

It’s as simple as that. Provided we two Councils look as though we are coping with our own damage, CERA will probably let us get on with it.

There were fears that CERA might ride over local concerns and charge ahead in spite of the people of Canterbury. Early indications, however, are that this is not happening – there seems to be a real attempt at engagement.

And the post-September Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Commission (see below)? It’s gone.

Why the Portacom Village?

6 October 2010

Why have portacoms suddenly sprouted around the Council building in Rangiora?

They are to provide a base for new short-term staff being taken on to deal with the earthquake recovery.

Most of the cost of these new staff, who will be engineers and the like, will be covered by insurance.

Kaiapoi Recovery Assistance Centre Up and Running

21 September 2010

If you run into people from Kaiapoi, The Pines or Kairaki who obviously need assistance, please advise them to go to the Recovery Assistance Centre that has been set up in the Kaiapoi Community Centre in Sewell Street, between Williams and Davie Streets.

Food parcels can be obtained from Kaiapoi Community Services, opposite the Kaikanui Hotel in Williams Street.

The Declaration of Civil Defence Emergency

16 September 2010

This was declared in Waimakariri, Christchurch and Selwyn early on Saturday 4 September and has been renewed twice since then.  It is due to expire at midday today (Thursday).

It has to be signed by the mayor.

The declaration gives wide powers to the Council, operating through the Civil Defence Controllers.  The extraordinary powers have not been used very much, but an example is the curfew that has been imposed on Kaiapoi and Pines-Kairaki.

A Disaster Like This – How Does Waimakariri Civil Defence Respond?

16 September 2010

Civil Defence is not an army ready to spring into action, although we do have small response teams – all of which have been active since the Earthquake.

The central body is the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) located in the Council Chamber.  An emergency power supply is available there.

The central people are the Controllers, rostered on one at a time (we ran this one mainly with  three of us) , and the Council’s Civil Defence Officers, Brennan Wiremu and Alicia Palmer.

There are five functional areas within the EOC, all Council staff pulled out of their normal jobs, although during this major emergency, they were bolstered by people sent from other councils (ranging from the Far North to Invercargill), volunteers, and other council staff.  An example of the latter were our swimming pool staff from Kaiapoi, who have been doing a great job.  The functional areas are:

  • Operations – which basically makes sure things happen.  The Police and Fire are part of this although the Police didn’t hang around, just keeping in contact.
  • Planning and Intelligence – keeping the records, keeping the big picture in front of the EOC.
  • Logistics – accessing material and supplies – everything from teaspoons to helicopters.
  • Welfare – looking after people, from food to accommodation to counselling to information services.
  • Communications – media releases, updating the website, preparing newsletters, etc.

Beyond that, there are all the links with the Government itself, with Government agencies (WINZ, Housing NZ, the Defence Force, EQC, etc.), other agencies like the Insurance Council and Enterprise North Canterbury – as well, of course, with the Canterbury Civil Defence Emergency Management Group and the national equivalent in Wellington within the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management.

Within the Council a Recovery Committee was up and running very early – led by Simon Markham.

And then there are the guys out in the field – Council managers and staff dealing with roads, water, sewers, building safety, people’s welfare and so on.  The Fire Brigades from all over North Canterbury have been involved.  The Police have been brilliant.  Alongside them have be a host of volunteers from the University, Rotary, Community Max, the Amateur Radio Club, the Salvation Army, a large number of voluntary social agencies – an endless list.  They all go to show that we have a resilient and caring community.

The Earthquake – What I Have Been Doing

16 September 2010

For those who follow this blog, you will know that, until yesterday, nothing has happened on it since before the Earthquake.

Many hundreds of people, possibly thousands, have been involved in the response since 4 September.  Much of it has been hidden from the public view.  At the end of last week I took two staff members into Kaiapoi and Pines to have a look.  They had both been working extremely long hours in the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in Rangiora but had not actually seen the area and the people they were working to help.

The EOC was in operation very quickly – well before 6.00am on the 4th.  We have four Civil Defence Controllers, and most of the controlling work has been carried by two staff members, Nick Harrison and Bruce Thompson, and a volunteer – me.  My role as a Controller has nothing to do with my role as a Councillor.

I have been on duty every day except one, and outside my time as a controller, I have door-knocked in Kaiapoi (starting on Sunday 5 September) and Pines Beach, delivered information leaflets, started to plan for the Recovery phase and reported to various groups about what is going on. I have also tried to keep contact with the Welfare Centres in Kaiapoi, Pines Beach and Tuahiwi.  In the first week, my days were about 15-18 hours each.  Every morning has started at 7.00am.

Other things, like this blog, have gone by the wayside!

New Marae Building Planned for Tuahiwi

20 June 2010

The Ngai Tuahuriri Runanga at Tuahiwi is planning a new marae building to replace the present old hall that has seen better days.  The new building will be available for the whole community to use and will feature an up-to-date kitchen capable of feeding a large number of people.  One can see its potential use as a civil defence welfare centre, for instance.  The Runanga is seeking funding from a variety of sources and has already secured a lot, including from Ngai Tahu and the Council.

Tsunami Warning Sirens

21 April 2010

I’ve had a few people talk to me about using the Volunteer Fire Brigade sirens to warn people of a tsunami coming.  Obviously, our river-mouth communities at Waikuku and Kairaki are particularly vulnerable to tsunami, not to mention people who happen to be on the beach at the time.

People suggest that we could use a different sound on the sirens, e.g. a continuous up and down sound.

There is a problem with this, however.  We need the Government to set a standard because different communities are doing different things, and not all beach communities have sirens.  If local radio stations broadcast a warning to evacuate on hearing a siren-sound that Christchurch has adopted, what do people in Kaiapoi do if their fire siren sounds for a fire?  It might start an unecessary evacuation.

So – some coordination and direction from the Government is needed.

22 January 2010


20 January 2010

The earthquake in Haiti and the recent tsunamis and earthquakes in Samoa, the Solomons and Indonesia should remind us not to be too complacent.

Let’s not forget:

  • NZ sits on the junction of two tectonic plates (the Pacific and the Australian).
  • Scientists have been measuring a build-up of stress on the Alpine Fault, the main fault in the Southern Alps.  It could result in an earthquake of more than 8 magnitude – far bigger than the recent Haiti earthquake.
  • The recent earthquake off Resolution Island was the biggest in NZ since Napier – fortunately, no-one lives there.
  • In a major earthquake, the immediate needs of survivors are likely to be beyond the immediate capacity of the various rescue services. It could be three days before help gets to you.
  • Be prepared!

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