State of National Emergency

Information about the State of National Emergency that was declared for COVID-19.

State of National Emergency expired

A State of National Emergency was declared at 12:21pm on 25 March 2020 due to COVID-19. It covered all of New Zealand including the Chatham Islands, Stewart Island and other offshore islands.

The declaration was made by the Minister of Civil Defence Hon Peeni Henare in consultation with the Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern following advice from the Director of CDEM.

The State of National Emergency expired at 12:21pm on Wednesday 13 May 2020. At this time the National Transition Period came into force.

National Transition Period

Extensions to state of emergency

Under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002, a state of emergency expires 7 days after it is declared unless it is terminated or extended.

The State of National Emergency was extended at:

  • 9:27am on 31 March 2020
  • 9:25am on 2 April 2020  
  • 12:21pm on 8 April 2020 
  • 12:21pm on 15 April 2020
  • 12:21pm on 22 April 2020
  • 12:21pm on 29 April 2020 
  • 12:21pm on 5 May 2020.

Notices on the state of national emergency

Relationship with COVID-19 Alert Levels

The National Transition Period does not change the COVID-19 Alert Level.

Information about the COVID-19 Alert System

State of Local Emergency vs State of National Emergency

Under the CDEM Act, this declaration means the Director of CDEM may control the exercise and performance of functions, duties, and powers of CDEM Groups and Group controllers. There are no other differences between the powers under a State of Local Emergency and a State of National Emergency.

Powers available under the CDEM Act

Emergency powers under the CDEM Act 2002 enable the Director of Civil Defence Emergency and CDEM Group Controllers to, among other things:

  • close or restrict access to roads or public places
  • remove or secure dangerous structures and materials
  • provide rescue, first aid, food, and shelter
  • conserve essential supplies and regulate traffic
  • dispose of dead persons and animals
  • enter onto premises, for example, to rescue people or save lives
  • evacuate premises/places
  • remove vehicles, and vessels
  • requisition equipment, materials and assistance.

CDEM Act powers can be used where necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, reduce its impact and manage the consequences, for example:

  • powers of requisition to manage wider consequences, such as providing for the conservation and supply of fuel and other essential supplies
  • closing roads
  • stopping people doing activities that may contribute to the emergency
  • excluding people from places
  • prohibiting or regulating traffic.

Previous States of National Emergency

This is the second time in New Zealand history that a state of national emergency has been declared. 

A state of national emergency for Christchurch City was declared on 23 February 2011 in response to the February 22 Christchurch earthquake. The state of national emergency was declared for Christchurch City as resources from across the country were required in order to assist response and early recovery efforts and lasted from 23 February 2011 until 30 April 2011 for a day count of 66 days.

The state of national emergency for COVID-19 is the first time such a declaration has been made for the whole of New Zealand.

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