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New Expectations To Empower Survivors Of National Disasters

  • New expectations for government agencies to better support families and communities affected by future national disasters
  • Co-authored by survivors of Pike River, Aramoana, Cave Creek, the CTV Building, March 15th, Whakaari/White Island, forestry deaths, and government

Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry Andrew Little has joined survivors of some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most significant national disasters to launch new expectations for how the public service will learn from the mistakes of the past and do better for survivors.

The Working With Survivors Model Standards were co-authored by the Stand With Pike Families Reference Group (FRG) and Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission. In partnership, the FRG led consultation with survivors of other national disasters, while the Commission led consultation with public service agencies, Police and Victim Support.

“New Zealanders remember our most significant national disasters - Aramoana, Cave Creek, Pike River, the CTV Building, March 15th, Whakaari/White Island and others. These are not pages in our history books. They are real stories of loss for Kiwi families and survivors. They are calls for us to learn the lessons and do what we can to prevent future disasters and better support survivors when they need it most,” Andrew Little said.

“Following the 2010 explosion the Pike River survivors felt let down by the state. They say it would have made the biggest difference if: agencies had empowered survivors, were upfront, and had worked together for the benefit of all current and future survivors. That is what the new expectations seek to do.

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“It means following and supporting the journey survivors go through. In the immediate aftermath it’s about the necessities of life and reuniting loved ones. Next it’s helping with the adjustment to the new normal. Finally it’s getting to the bottom of what happened, learning from it, and promoting healing.

“A fundamental purpose of the completed Pike River re-entry project was to give the survivors closure and promote accountability. That required every part of the project to be conducted in partnership with the FRG and the families. This new approach was the genesis of the expectations, and the same partnership model was used for their creation.

“The FRG wanted to give back to New Zealanders for their support. By leading the work to create the new expectations the FRG, and their partners including other survivors, have laid the foundation for better support for survivors and families who experience future tragedies,” Andrew Little said.

The new expectations are a first step in a journey of continual improvement. They will be updated as survivors and public service agencies share their experiences and ideas.


In the Working With Survivors Model Standards the term “survivors” may include physically injured or psychologically affected people, bereaved and affected whānau and members of the wider community including those based offshore.

There are three elements to the Model Standards:

1. Empower survivors: Survivors may have lost their power and agency, and their ability to make decisions may be compromised. Support from the Public Service can help to empower survivors.

2. Be upfront: Survivors need to know what happened. They need open and honest communication.

3. Work together: To ensure that survivors get clear messages and equitable support, public servants work together.

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