The work to ensure people are ready and able to respond to an emergency on Whakaari/White Island will now formally be delivered by the Bay of Plenty Civil Defence Emergency Management Group.
It follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding today by the Associate Minister of Local Government, the Hon Jacqui Dean and the Group.
The MOU officially sets out the responsibilities of the Group in relation to the active volcano, including readiness and response work, support for the work of other agencies including Police and GNS and giving the Group the authority to declare a local State of Emergency if required.
BOPCDEM Group Joint Committee Chair, Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless said, as is the case of many of the country’s offshore islands, Whakaari did not come under the authority of any city or district council, which would usually have had these responsibilities under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002.
“Because of this, the Group has been carrying out this type of work as required and as able on behalf of the Minister of Local Government, however it’s great for us to day to formalise this agreement and set a clear direction for the future.”
Mayor Brownless said the Group would continue working with those who visit and use the island, in the same way a local authority would usually meet with its community, to ensure the readiness and response planning they did was adequate for the risks the island presented.
“Our staff will be liaising with tour operators to ensure the risks to visitors on the island are managed appropriately, with GNS who regularly communicate to the public about the island and with Police to ensure any Search and Rescue Plans for the island are prepared and current.
“We’re confident that this work has already been carried out as required, but it’s great, as the regional organisation tasked with ensuring our communities are prepared, to able to include one of our more active features in our official work streams.”
Items included in the MOU for the Bay of Plenty CDEM Group include:
- Preparing and making any necessary changes to the Whakaari/White Island Response Plan, in consultation with the Department of Internal Affairs;
- developing an annual work programme for Whakaari/White Island,
- supporting the development of other agencies’ emergency management plans;
- liaising and building relationships with land owners, tour operators, GNS Science and any other key stakeholders;
- providing public information, if the Civil Defence Emergency Management Group considers this appropriate, online and through other media
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