Wananga landing Wananga landing

LEAD Latest News and Media

10 January 2024

Check out LEADs latest news and media.

Latest News


LEAD researchers present at the Resilience National Science Challenge Webinar 24 April 2024

Are we prepared for disasters? As a nation we have a history of pushing through emergency legislation in the wake of natural hazard events to govern our emergency response. This has led to an expectation that post-event bespoke frameworks will be introduced to manage post-disaster recovery. Is there a better way? Instead of treating disasters as individual hazards, should we treat them as a pattern of events and legislate accordingly? Join us as we hear from experts to explore Aotearoa New Zealand’s current legal frameworks and the impacts these have on our ability to prepare for, respond to and recover from natural hazard events. Using an Auckland Volcanic Field eruption scenario based on the latest science, we’ll identify the challenges of managing disaster risk, examine the impacts of our current reactionary approach to disaster law, and explore possible alternatives.

Webinar Speakers:

Professor John Hopkins, University of Canterbury

Professor Jan Lindsay, University of Auckland

Holly Faulkner, University of Canterbury



Dr Toni Collins

After becoming aware of the damage to Statistics House in the Kaikōura Earthquake of 2006, Dr Toni Collins researched the overlap of the Building Act 2004 and the Building (Earthquake Prone Building (EPB)) Amendment Act 2016. 

"Dr Collins, with her colleague Dr Nadia Dabee, scoured the literature, court cases and government websites to clarify the Government’s intention. Even a WorkSafe Policy Statement issued in 2018 to explain the overlap between the two Acts, only confused the situation. Many owners don’t realise they are responsible for getting seismic assessments. Others are closing buildings unnecessarily. This is because the law is unclear.

Toni and Nadia have published their research in the New Zealand Universities Law Review. They call for the higher standard of the Health and Safety at Work Act to be applied as this will give occupants the highest level of protection under the law regarding building safety."

LEAD Members published in the latest Yearbook of International Disaster Law 

The latest edition (2021) of the Yearbook of International Disaster Law has just been published. It includes three articles involving Law Faculty Staff who are all part of the LEAD group:

‘As the Island Choirs Gather’ Tracing a Regional Approach to Disaster and Climate Resilience in Pacific Island Countries’: W John Hopkins, Tommaso Natoli and Leanne Avila (Leanne was a LEAD summer scholar and will be starting her LLM in June).

‘Ensuring a Disability Perspective in Disaster Law The Contribution of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ Kris Gledhill and Natalie Baird

‘Pacific Disaster Law Update” W John Hopkins and Leanne Avila

The Yearbook (published by Brill) is freely available online (due to sponsorship by the IFRC): Yearbook of International Disaster Law Online Volume 4 Issue 1 (2021) (

- 1 May 2023

Professor John Hopkins Makes Submission to the Governance and Administration Select Committee

In the aftermath of Cyclone Garbrielle, the New Zealand Government has decided to once again introduce new legislation in the aftermath of a disaster. This time in the form of the Severe Weather Emergency Legislation Bill. This omnibus bill makes (temporary) changes to the RMA, the LGA and the CDEM Act amongst others.

LEAD's Professor John Hopkins was invited to present an oral submission to the Governance and Administration Select Committee. Although the process was expedited it was nevertheless a positive change that the Bill was referred to the Select Commitee and not passed through urgency. It is also a welcome change to see law and disaster experts being called upon to provide expert commentary on these ad hoc legal provisions.

You can check out John's contribution via this link, from timestamp 10:43.


WorkSafe to Focus on 'High Harm' Industries Over Adventure Activities

9 August 2022 Radio New Zealand

University of Canterbury law professor John Hopkins, who heads New Zealand's Institute of Law, Emergencies and Disasters, said adventure activities did not have a good safety record in this country, which he believed was an "unintended consequence" of the ACC system that removed the ability to sue for personal injury.

"If you cut corners, in most jurisdictions overseas, you risk having significant damages against you in a court case. Now we don't have that deterrent here. We've only got the Health and Safety at Work Act and various other legislation, largely managed by WorkSafe.

"So WorkSafe is all that lies between us and unsafe practices. So you've got to fund it properly."

Prosecuting companies that breached health and safety laws in court was "the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff" and was a failure of a system that was supposed to prevent harm, Hopkins said.


Whakaari / White Island: Finger pointed back at WorkSafe

9 December 2021 Radio New Zealand

Two years on from the disastrous Whakaari / White Island eruption, Rita Yousef, a lawyer representing Australian victims says the regulatory shortcomings are "terrifying". Dr John Hopkins said the Whakaari explosion, and the failures highlighted since, had brought the country's whole adventure activities safety system into question.

LISTEN: to the segment on Morning Report

Earthquake-prone council buildings

1 December 2021 Build magazine

Councils are having to take decisions about whether to close earthquake-prone buildings, which can have an adverse impact on local communities. A new decision-making framework will help ensure a measured risk assessment.


New decision-making framework for earthquake-prone council buildings

12 November 2021 LGNZ and BRANZ - media release

Five years on from the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake, a new decision-making framework is being launched to help councils navigate their legal obligations around managing earthquake-prone council buildings. The BRANZ-led project was a collaboration with Resilient Organisations, Kestrel Group, the University of Canterbury’s Institute of Law, Emergencies and Disaster (LEAD), and Massey University’s Joint Centre for Disaster Research.

DOWNLOAD: BRANZ study report SR463 [2021]


Mandatory record keeping poses questions of public trust, digital divide

24 August 2021 New Zealand Herald

Experts have weighed in on the new mandate of record-keeping during the pandemic, flagging issues of public trust, privacy and digital literacy.   


Whakaari/White Island: Confusion over safety responsibilities at senior level

3 June 2021 Radio New Zealand

Despite tourist companies leading visitors onto New Zealand's most active volcano for decades, some stakeholders' health and safety obligations were unclear.


Disaster Law

18 February 2021 Radio New Zealand

LISTEN: Professor John Hopkins and Senior Lecturer Toni Collins of the UC School of Law spoke to RNZ's Alison Ballance about disaster law, discussing the legal situations around New Zealand's response to COVID-19, the Christchurch earthquakes, and the Pacific island nations' centralised response to disasters.




Masks - public health law expert, John Hopkins

16 November 2020 Radio New Zealand

LISTEN: UC Law Professor John Hopkins discusses the practicality of enforcing Government mandated use of face masks on public transport.


Mt Taranaki eruption could knock out power to entire region

13 November 2020 Stuff

Did you know that Mt Taranaki has a 50% chance of eupting in the next 50 years? Given the time that has passed since its last eruption, Professor Tom Wilson of UC's School of Earth and Environment believes the next one could be 'on the bigger side of what Taranaki can produce'.


NZ's Covid-19 methods are effective but 'old fashioned' - disaster expert

14 October 2020 Radio New Zealand

It shows that New Zealander's need to have a conversation about what things we would give up to stop the impact of the lockdown", says Professor John Hopkins, UC Law disaster expert, in response to our 'old fashioned' COVID-19 methods.


International advice on managing COVID-19 - Expert Reaction

13 October 2020 Science Media Centre

How useful is WHO latest COVID-19 international advice for New Zealand? UC Law Professor John Hopkins says that what is important is considering the different legal frameworks that a country operates under.


New research to help businesses increase seismic safety

7 September 2020 EQC

See new research that will help businesses increase their seismic safety. UC Law Dr Toni Collins has worked with EQCNZ and Resilient Organisations on the research project which will help businesses better protect their staff and customers in future earthquakes.

Privacy Preferences

By clicking "Accept All Cookies", you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyse site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.