An examination of improvements required to legislative provisions for Post-Disaster Reconstruction in New Zealand

James Olabode Bamidele Rotimi

University of Canterbury, PhD thesis 2010


Previous disaster management studies allude to the problems of coordination and the difficulties that may be associated with the implementation of recovery programmes in New Zealand. These studies have also indicated opportunities for improving the current recovery and reconstruction framework in advance of a major disaster. They have shown that much existing legislation were not drafted to cope with wide-scale devastations and were not developed to operate under the conditions that will inevitably prevail in the aftermath of a severe disaster. This thesis therefore explores improvements that could be made to legislative provisions so that they facilitate large-scale recovery management in New Zealand. Three legislative documents are in view: Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Act, Resource Management Act (RMA) and Building Act (BA). The research investigations involved qualitative research methodology using multi-methods to determine the practical implication of implementing current reconstruction arrangement under these legislative documents. The methods employed include: interviews, document analysis, focus group study, surveys, and the use of subject matter experts for research verification. Results show that the three legislative documents may become sources of vulnerability in post disaster reconstruction because of their influence on the timely achievement of recovery objectives. The impediments posed by these legislative documents are mainly in the form of procedural constraints; ambiguities in rights and responsibilities for recovery management; and deficiencies in the intents and purposes of the legislative documents. More general results show that pre-planning the management of disaster resources; and collaborative arrangements for response and recovery programmes are a pre-cursor to effective and efficient management of reconstruction in New Zealand.

The research concludes by providing useful recommendations that are specific to the three legislative documents and other general recommendations. It is hoped the implementation of these recommendations could improve the robustness of the current reconstruction framework so that it is able to cater for the complex needs of rebuilding for resilience in New Zealand.

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