A revised plan for the country to cope in an emergency has been approved by the Government.

The new Civil Defence Emergency Management Plan would set out "the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved in reducing risks and preparing for, responding to and recovering from emergencies", Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye said today.

"This includes central and local government, lifeline utilities such as electricity suppliers, emergency services such as fire and police and non-government organisations such as victim support."

The plan is generally revised every five years to "ensure it's robust, current and well understood by everyone involved in its delivery", she said.

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"However, the plan I've announced today was delayed to enable the incorporation of important lessons learned from the Canterbury earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.

"The revised plan will take effect on December 1. This allows time for a guide to be produced, setting out all the supporting operational detail and diagrams."

As well as an increased emphasis on risk reduction and recovery from an emergency, there are strengthened arrangements for the delivery of welfare services, and recognition of the significant roles that the New Zealand Defence Force and science and research organisations have in emergencies, she said.

"We've faced a number of significant emergencies in recent years, including the nation's first state of national emergency for the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

"It's essential we're prepared for events such as these, and the National Civil Defence Emergency Management Plan plays an important role in this."

View the revised National Civil Defence Emergency Management Plan

Changes at a glance:

• Clarifies the role of lead agencies to provide greater understanding of who's responsible for planning the management of particular hazards during an emergency.

• Identifies the important role the New Zealand Defence Force can play in an emergency, eg by helping with evacuation, cordon management, aerial reconnaissance, deploying goods and services to affected communities.

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• Includes new arrangements for building management, including building safety assessment to protect life.

• Recognises the role of research and science organisations such as GNS Science and MetService, which can help understand and monitor hazards and provide advice and information during emergencies.

• Enhances welfare services arrangements to better meet the needs of affected communities during emergencies.

• Incorporates new arrangements for Civil Defence Emergency Management logistics, to ensure the sufficient deployment and provision of resources during emergencies.

• Sets out new arrangements for business continuity planning and emergency response planning for local authorities, government departments and lifeline utilities, to ensure essential services continue to be provided to communities and that response agencies can operate effectively during emergencies.