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Natural Hazards Business Cluster Celebrates

9 November 2005

Natural Hazards Business Cluster Celebrates 5th Year Anniversary And Website Launch

A group of New Zealand companies involved in international disaster recovery and preparedness work celebrates its fifth birthday this week with the launch of a new website.

On Thursday 10th November Prime Minister Helen Clark and Mayor Kerry Prendergast will join the Natural Hazards New Zealand business cluster as it celebrates its 5th birthday and launch of their new high capability website at a Positively Wellington Business sponsored event at Te Papa.

The Wellington-based Natural Hazards Business Cluster identifies large overseas projects and co-ordinates the preparation of proposals from members who are best suited and interested in undertaking the work. The cluster provides leverage to all members to tackle projects that they might otherwise be unable to do on their own.

The Cluster has five projects underway in post-tsunami Indonesia covering watershed management, earthquake design and training, earthquake risk assessment, and community disaster risk reduction.

The new website has been set up so Cluster members can quickly put together proposals for overseas contracts. It is also designed to raise awareness of the clusters capabilities and services with government agencies and international donors.

"It will enable donor agencies such as the World Bank to quickly assess the expertise and track record of Cluster members," says Dr Noel Trustrum, Co-Chair of the Business Cluster

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"As well as a wide range of services, Cluster members are developing a number of new products such as hazard prediction software, telecommunications equipment, and reconstruction materials," Dr Trustrum adds.

The devastating Boxing Day Asia Earthquake and Tsunami, the New Orleans disaster, and now the South Asia Earthquake in northern Pakistan and India Kashmir all serve to remind us of the need for awareness and preparedness in the face of natural hazards. With the effects of global warming, knowledge of natural hazards will become more and more paramount.

"The Wellington region has strong expertise in areas of professional services such as Natural Hazards and Earthquake Engineering" says Positively Wellington Business' (PWB) Chief Executive Philip Lewin.

"Although these economic development initiatives often require long term attention and investment, the cluster model can and does produce results. Positively Wellington Business is proud to support the Natural Hazards Cluster." says Philip Lewin.


Natural Hazards New Zealand function details:

* The function will be held in the Rangimarie Room 1, Level 3, Te Papa * The reception begins at 5:00pm and the Prime Minister will be available for photos from 5:15pm to 5:25pm. The official proceedings will start at 5:25pm * The Natural Hazards New Zealand website will be launched during the function on the following URL - www.naturalhazards.co.nz

Background notes:

Natural Hazards New Zealand (NHNZ) is a Wellington-based business cluster supported by Positively Wellington Business. This group of professionals has expertise in risk management, recovery and mitigation from earthquake and tsunami, as well as other natural hazards including cyclones, climate change, floods, landslides, volcanic eruption, fires, coastal erosion and drought. They are drawn from research, emergency management, consultancy, engineering, education and other organisations. There are over 30 member companies and organisations in the cluster.

Natural Hazards New Zealand (NHNZ) was set up five years ago following the success of the Earthquake Engineering New Zealand (EENZ) cluster. The clusters are a response to moves by international development agencies (UN, World Bank, and Asian Development Bank) towards supporting disaster risk prevention and reduction mitigation projects rather than just recovery and reconstruction after major natural disasters. The clusters also help to ensure that improved building standards are used in recovery programmes.

Natural Hazards NZ provides co-ordination facilitation for specialist smaller firms and individuals as well as larger organisations to be involved in overseas project work they would not otherwise undertake. Members through cooperation to combines resources have the capacity and experience to resource and lead major projects at an international, national and community level.

New Zealand's institutional, technical and consultative hazard management practices are recognised internationally as innovative and pragmatic. These help to provide sustainable solutions that meet the needs of affected communities and countries.

ENDS

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