Running NZ from a seaside suburb
It’s a quaint, seaside suburb of million-dollar homes and a single, strangled road in and out to the rest of Auckland.
And though few in Devonport realise, it is quietly biding its time as Wellington’s heir in waiting. Yes, Devonport, the future capital of New Zealand - should disaster strike that is.
If a large-magnitude earthquake devastates Wellington, our country’s leaders will be evacuated from the precincts of parliament, 634 kilometres north to Auckland’s Devonport Naval Base.
It is part of the government’s worst-case contingency plan, and involves moving all MPs and certain ‘‘key officials’’ -a total of 170 evacuated to Devonport.
On the plan’s unveiling in June 2014, then-Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye said trying to keep the government going in a quakeravaged Wellington would be impossible.
And a new report shows repairing Wellington could cost more than $26 billion, but the city might never fully recover anyway.
The ‘ Contingency Plan Emergency Relocation of Executive Gov- ernment and Parliament following a Major Wellington Earthquake’ report is set for its next multi-agency review this month, a Parliamentary Services spokesman said.
If a ‘‘worst case’’ natural disaster like a severe earthquake struck, ministers and Parliamentary staff could be flown out of Wellington within hours, 2014 Cabinet papers showed.
Bunkered underneath the Beehive, Civil Defence’s national headquarters would co-ordinate the Wellington evacuation, prioritising who is removed first.
The New Zealand Defence Force with its 21-helicopter fleet would coordinate the transfer of the officials to the naval base.
The plan calls for Devonport Naval Base to be used for up to two weeks before a suitable longer-term temporary capital was found.
So what do Devonport residents feel about being inundated with the good and the great?
Andrew Osborne, manager of Devonport’s Corelli’s Cafe, said as long as the politicians are spending it would be ‘‘all good’’ having them at the base.
‘‘We have North Shore MP Maggie Barry here quite regularly, we’re used to politicians.’’