Moving the volcano on paper
The largest volcano in the Bay Of Plenty Whakaari/White Island is being moved on paper into a new jurisdiction on Friday in a special signing ceremony at Tauranga City Council.
The signing over between the Department of Internal Affairs and the Bay of Plenty Civil Defence Emergency Management Group will took place on Friday.
BOPCDEM Group Joint Committee Chair, Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless said, as is the case of many of the country’s offshore islands, Whakaari did not come under the authority of any city or district council, which would usually have had these responsibilities under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002.
“Because of this, the Group has been carrying out this type of work as required and as able on behalf of the Minister of Local Government, however it’s great for us to day to formalise this agreement and set a clear direction for the future,” says Greg.
The Group will continue working with those who visit and use the island, in the same way a local authority would usually meet with its community, to ensure the readiness and response planning they did was adequate for the risks the island presented.
“Our staff will be liaising with tour operators to ensure the risks to visitors on the island are managed appropriately, with GNS who regularly communicate to the public about the island and with Police to ensure any Search and Rescue Plans for the island are prepared and current.
“We’re confident that this work has already been carried out as required, but it’s great, as the regional organisation tasked with ensuring our communities are prepared, to able to include one of our more active features in our official work streams.”
Signatories are Associate Minister of Local Government, Jacqui Dean, and Mayor Greg Brownless, Chair Civil Defence Emergency Management Group Joint Committee.
The island volcano is within the Bay of Plenty Civil Defence Emergency Management Group boundary. The Minister of Local Government acts as the territorial authority for the Island.
In the absence of capacity within the Department of Internal Affairs to do so, the Group Emergency Management Office through Emergency Management Bay of Plenty has been delivering some civil defence activities for Whakaari, which has led to the proposed Memorandum of Understanding between the national and local arms of government.
The MOU formalises existing arrangements and activities. It covers specific functions in relation to response and readiness functions.
It does not cover risk reduction and recovery functions. The Group will be responsible for building and maintaining relationships with the tour operators, Island owners and relevant supporting agencies including New Zealand Police and GNS Science.
Staff will monitor the level of risk presented by the Island and communicate this to the community as appropriate.
The proposed MOU only covers Whakaari/White Island. Due to the more complex nature of the other offshore islands within the Bay of Plenty CDEM Group boundary they have not been considered at this point in time. Whakaari/White Island presented pressing matters that required addressing as a priority at this time.