New Zealand’s National Crisis Management Centre

Across New Zealand, and the world, essential workers have mobilised to keep us safe in the fight against COVID-19. Joining this task force, two of our risk and disaster experts headed into New Zealand’s National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC) alongside the National Emergency Management Agency in Wellington. Leaving the safety of their own homes during L4 Lockdown to enhance the safety of others, Manea and Alex have spent weeks working hard to develop national welfare support across New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

The ability to function effectively during a crisis is intrinsically linked to trust and understanding of the team around you. Manea and Alex’s deep understanding of how the other works enables them to join established teams with little transition. Manea’s experience in earthquake recovery and flood response planning, and Alex’s experience in flood risk reduction, response, and community resilience means that they bring a wealth of experience to everything they do.

In their work within the NCMC, they have been confronted by the wide-ranging effects this pandemic is having across our communities and the cross-agency response this requires, something that sits close to their hearts.

Manea spent a lot of her childhood doing various tasks in the Auckland City Mission (managed by her father), seeing first-hand the importance of food banks and other social services for those in need. Equally, Alex’s time in the UK ambulance service showed him that those who are vulnerable can find their vulnerabilities exacerbated during times of disease transmission.

Their collective enthusiasm to support the communities they live and work within, has forged a strong partnership. Over the past months, our country, and the world, have suffered greatly, and so we asked Manea and Alex what keeps them positive working in disaster response and recovery during these tough times:

Alex says “focusing on the possibility of our new normal. The opportunity for New Zealand to leverage changes that have occurred as a result of COVID-19 restrictions presents a real prospect to take a leap forward. The way we care for our communities, reach out to our neighbours, and finding new ways of working to collectively improve wellbeing”.

Manea agrees, “Pandemics have historically forced humanity to enter a new state, a new world – most recently we have learnt creative ways of connecting with each other, a reduction in vehicle traffic noise and volumes, and seen an increase of wildlife in our cities – with bold and courageous leadership, retaining the best of what we have been forced to learn could propel us into a better future”.

They say that a crisis is not the making of a person’s character, but shows the character of who we are. We celebrate and honour all of our essential workers here, and around the world – who continue to keep us safe during this time.