An emergency is a situation that presents an immediate risk to life, health, property or the environment.

The Ministry of Health, district health boards and their public health services are prepared to respond to emergency situations including:

  • international pandemics
  • infectious disease outbreaks
  • national or regional natural disasters
  • chemical spills
  • sewage system malfunction.

Nelson Marlborough Public Health Service staff respond to major emergencies using the Co-ordinated Incident Management System. During natural disasters, such as earthquakes or floods, they give advice about:

  • drinking-water safety
  • infectious disease control
  • sewage disposal
  • recreational water quality
  • hazardous substances.

Food safety is the responsibility of the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Emergency management roles and responsibilities are set out in legislation such as the Civil Defence Emergency Act 2002, New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000 and the Epidemic Preparedness Act 2006.