Recovery is defined by the Ministry of Civil Defence Emergency Management as the coordinated efforts and processes used to bring about the immediate, medium-term, and long-term holistic regeneration of a community following an emergency.

While this definition and the term recovery might suggest it is something that happens after the emergency, in its best form it will normally start during the emergency and as early as possible. It will involve a team charged with the responsibility for managing the recovery aspects of the emergency and this team will be a different team to the one that is managing the emergency response. There is no clearly defined timeline for how long recovery takes but New Zealand experience tends to show for major emergencies akin to the Canterbury Earthquakes, that recovery can take close to 10 years. During this time the heat of the emergency has well passed and a lot of normal (business-as-usual) community development may be occurring that is also attending some of the needs of the long-term recovery. The fine line between what is recovery and what is business as usual often becomes difficult to distinguish.

Waimakariri District Council has a Recovery Management Team which is a combination of some senior council staff and representatives from a number of key stakeholder agencies. During the recovery effort this team will illicit the support of a huge range of representatives from other government departments, community organisations, the council itself and members of the community who are deemed relevant and important to recovery from the respective emergency. This team becomes the Recovery Team and it is spear-headed by the Recovery Management Team.  The Council has a Recovery Plan but this is now under review and the new version is expected to be published by the end of 2018.

CDEM Recovery is based on a functional concept that breaks matters down into four pillars of:

  • Social Environment Recovery
  • Built Environment Recovery
  • Natural Environment Recovery
  • Economic Environment Recovery

The Recovery Team divides all of the assessed recovery matters across the four pillars (some matters can belong to multiple pillars) and the Recovery Team is divided into four sub-committees one for each of the four pillars of recovery. These sub-committees will work through their assigned issues in concert with the affected community through comprehensive public engagement gatherings and they will report back to the Recovery Management Team for prioritizing of issues, resources, funding and where appropriate decisions. We use a process of electing members of the community to be the ‘peoples’ spokespersons represented on the Recovery Team to ensure there is a significant community input to the recovery.

As recent as November 2016 new legislation was created that now enables a declaration of transition to recovery which is a statutory mechanism to provide special powers to support the recovery effort. It is a mechanism that can be used but may not always be needed.