Emergencies may be caused by natural or human activity, without or with little warning, and when we least expect them.

Flooding, earthquakes, wildfires, chemical contamination of the environment, disease outbreaks are some of the hazards that may impact public health.

Climate change is affecting New Zealand and the health of New Zealanders as many factors that contribute to our health and well-being are threatened by climate change. Over time, increasing climate change will lead to our health being impacted more severely, and more of us will be affected.


Role of Toi Te Ora Public Health

Toi Te Ora Public Health (Toi Te Ora) provides advice and information across the four R’s of emergency management; reduction, readiness, response and recovery with a responsibility to reduce the impacts of events to public health. In part, this is achieved by working closely with local authorities, critical infrastructure (lifeline utilities) providers including ports of entry, and other government agencies and businesses to improve community resilience to potential hazards.

As Fire Emergency New Zealand is the lead to respond to a fire, the Health Service is the lead when responding to a disease outbreak or pandemic.

Prior to and during an emergency Toi Te Ora may be called upon to provide advice on:

  • Air quality
  • Burials and disinterment
  • Contaminated soil/land
  • Disease prevention and control measures 
  • Drinking water
  • Hazardous substances, such as chemical spills and asbestos containing materials
  • Pests
  • Psychosocial welfare
  • Radioactive substances and illness
  • Refuse disposal
  • Sewage disposal
  • Spills
  • Water quality (includes water for sanitation and drinking, fresh and marine recreational water)
  • Waste management including refuse collection and disposal

Toi Te Ora has identified possible emergency scenarios and has prepared contingency plans. Staff at Toi Te Ora are trained in emergency response systems to work as a team and manage emergencies in a co-ordinated and effective way.

The overall health goal of Toi Te Ora is to minimize the health risks to communities and individuals in an emergency. An emergency may or may not be a declared civil defence emergency.  This is what transpired in 2009 for the H1N1 Pandemic that involved a whole of ‘Health’ lead response which public health services played a key role.


Preparing to stay well during an emergency

Preparing you and your family for a disaster and protecting your health in an emergency

Saving water during water shortage

Food safety in natural disasters and emergencies

Food safety in an emergency

Get Ready, Get Thru - this website will show you how to get ready for an emergency, so you'll get through. The site is translated into nine languages including English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Te Reo Māori, Samoan, Tongan and Arabic. Simply click on the language required and it translates the website.

Emergency Mobile Alerts are messages about emergencies. They are sent by authorised emergency agencies to mobile phones.  Find out more here at the Get Thru website


Hazard information and advice

Additional information


Self-Care and Wellness

It’s normal to feel upset after extreme events. If you need support or advice, or have feelings of anxiety, stress, prolonged fear, hopelessness or anger and need to talk with someone, you can phone Healthline on 0800 611 116.

To access mental health and addiction services near you, go to the Access and Choice website. Services are free and there is no referral criteria.

The below resources may also be helpful:


For more information


Contact us for more information.