Crime & traumatic events
Natural disasters

Natural disasters

If you or anyone else is in immediate danger, call emergency services on 111.

  • If you’re in danger but it’s not safe to talk, call 111, stay silent, and follow the instructions to connect to police.
  • If you’re calling from a mobile, stay silent and listen for the 'press 55' prompt for help.
  • If you’re calling from a landline, stay silent and follow the operator’s instructions to press any button for help.
  • If you have hearing or speech difficulties, register for the New Zealand Police 111 TXT service so you can text Police, Fire or Ambulance in an emergency.
  • If English is not your primary language, Victim Support can use Connecting Now to connect with an interpreter over the phone. Call us on 0800 842 846 and let us know which language you need. Victim Support can also try and match you with a Support Worker who speaks your primary language.
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If you or anyone else is in immediate danger or a property is at risk, call emergency services on 111. Let them know if there’s anyone trapped in the property or seriously injured.

  • If you have hearing or speech difficulties, you can register for the New Zealand Police 111 TXT service so you can text Police, Fire, or Ambulance in an emergency.
  • If English is not your primary language, Victim Support can use Connecting Now to connect with an interpreter over the phone. Call us on 0800 842 846 and let us know which language you need. Victim Support can also try and match you with a Support Worker who speaks your primary language.
  • To make a quick exit from this page click on the Quick Exit button on the top right. Go to the Hide my visit page to learn how to hide evidence of your visit to this site.
  • If phone lines are down or overloaded due to the environmental or weather event, look for help from neighbours and your local community when it is safe to do so.
  • If the event is serious and requires evacuation, the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management will activate the National Crisis Management Centre to be ready to support all regions affected.
  • There is a coordinated effort to assist people facing natural emergencies between Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ), Police, Ambulance, Civil Defence, the Red Cross and other community agencies, depending on the situation.

Prioritise your safety to avoid the possibility of further harm. Choose a safe place to go to and trusted people to be with.

After traumatic events, it's normal to find that you feel more anxious about your safety and others' safety too. Remember, you're not alone - our Support Workers and other community organisations are here to help you to work out the next steps you can take. We want everyone who has experienced a crime or traumatic event to feel safe and supported.

It's important to prioritise your safety. After traumatic events, it's normal to find that you feel more anxious about your safety and others' safety too. Remember, you're not alone - our Support Workers and other community organisations are here to help you to work out the next steps you can take. We want everyone who has experienced a crime or traumatic event to feel safe and supported.

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If you or others have been injured, see a doctor, go to a hospital emergency department or call an ambulance on 111 regardless of whether you decide to report the incident or not.

A professional medical assessment can help your recovery and ensure physical safety.

Depending on the incident, consider having the doctor prepare a medical report that can be shared with police, if you are comfortable doing that.

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We provide 24/7 free, confidential emotional and practical support and information to anyone affected by crime, suicide and traumatic events, including their whānau and witnesses. We are here for you in your time of crisis to help you feel empowered, make choices and access the services you need to feel safe and in control. We are here for you if you choose to report a crime and even if you don’t.

You can call us or visit our How we can help page to find out more about who we are, how we can help you and how to access our support.

You may qualify for financial assistance under the Victim Assistance Scheme (VAS) which helps victims of serious crime by contributing to costs related to the crime, the justice process and recovery.

For more information you can contact your Support Worker, call us directly on 0800 842 846 or visit our Financial assistance page.

After what’s happened the media may want to get comments or interview you, your family, whānau, close friends or any witnesses.  Media can sometimes feel demanding and intrusive during stressful times but it’s your decision if you want to speak to them or not and what you feel comfortable sharing.

If you have insurance, make an insurance claim as soon as you can. Your insurance company will explain what you need to do next. It may be making a list of missing or damaged items, keeping any damaged items in case they need to be assessed by the insurer or keeping receipts for the expenses resulting from the incident.

It’s common for insurance companies to investigate this kind of claim. You can help them by remembering and noting down as much as you can about any events leading up to or during the incident.

If you don't have insurance, it can take more time to get back on your feet, but support is available to help you cope through what’s happened.

These situations can seem very unjust and unfair and can cause both grief and trauma. There is an overlap between these two reactions but there are also some differences. Grief is a normal reaction to loss, featuring a range of responses that stem from sadness. Trauma is a normal reaction to an abnormal event, featuring a range of responses that stem from fear and anxiety.

To help them cope through what’s happened, provide a safe and supportive space for children and young people to process their thoughts in their own way and reassure them it’s not their fault.

Family, whānau and friends can suddenly be called on to help someone who is a victim, witness, or has been bereaved by a crime or a traumatic event. Your caring support can help the person feel more able to cope and begin to recover. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do or say and you may be feeling stressed by their situation as well. Being there to listen and taking care of yourself along the way helps.

Most people find that unexpectedly witnessing a crime or traumatic incident or discovering the aftermath is disturbing and distressing. Even if you weren’t physically harmed you may still be psychologically affected by what you have seen or heard.

Witnesses often experience a wide range of strong reactions including shock and disbelief, fear, horror, helplessness, anger or grief. You may be overwhelmed or perhaps numb and unable to feel anything at first. You may find you're asking yourself if you could have prevented it, done something different, or helped. You may replay the events in your mind and find it hard to stop distressing thoughts and images. It is common to feel guilty that you witnessed or discovered something so major in someone else’s life and that you were physically unharmed.

It is important to recognise that just because you weren’t directly involved, it doesn’t mean you won’t be affected by what happened. We are here for you if you need support.

The police will ask you to detail what happened and  to make a statement. If you are comfortable doing that, the information you give will help police with their investigation.

After a traumatic experience, people’s memories can sometimes be a bit foggy or uncertain. Things that happened can seem like a blur. Take your time and do your best to tell the police everything you can remember about the incident.

The police officer will write down or record what you say and will give you a copy of your statement to confirm it’s an accurate report of what happened. If you remember additional details later on, you can get in touch with the police officer looking after the case, usually called the "OC" or Officer in Charge.

The Investigation

Police will carry out an investigation, which may include additional interviews with you or any other witnesses. They will collect necessary evidence and keep you updated throughout the process. Be aware that investigations can take some time.

Witness Statements

Witness statements and information provided by you or any other witnesses can help investigators and are important for any legal processes later. They can also help those affected by the event, like the families or whānau of anyone harmed, to better understand exactly what happened.

For many, a ceremonial blessing of the site where a person has died is an essential part of processing the loss. It acknowledges of the spiritual impact of the tragedy and protects and guides the spirit of the deceased. It respects and honours the dignity of the deceased person, their family, whānau, and community.

For Māori, it can include lifting of the tapu on the site and karakia. Other cultural and faith groups have their own unique blessing ceremonies. Some family or whānau members may choose to visit the scene and be part of a blessing ceremony and others may not. They may prefer to hold a private blessing or open it to whomever would like to come, including from the community.

If you are an immediate family or whānau member wishing to organise a blessing for the site, you could contact your kaumātua, local marae, church or faith centre, the police officer who has been working with you, a Police Iwi Liaison Officer, or speak to a Support Worker.

If you don't personally know the family or whānau but witnessed or discovered the incident, you can speak to a Support Worker if you'd like to attend a blessing, provided it is open to the public and the family or whānau are comfortable with that.

For emergencies

Call police on 111 if you’re concerned for the immediate safety of yourself or others, the incident is happening or has just happened, there's serious risk to life or property or there’s an offender there.

If you can't decide if it's an emergency, call 111 and they will help you work out what to do.

For non-emergencies

If the incident doesn’t need urgent police or emergency services, you're not in immediate danger or you have new information about a case, you can make a report in a few ways:

Call the police non-emergency number on 105

Fill in a New Zealand Police 105 report

In person
Find your local police station - Talk to the person at the front counter and they will advise you about what to do. If your nearest station is a small or rural station, call 105 to make sure someone is there to help you. You may want to take a trusted person with you for support.

If you feel unable to report the incident to police directly

You may consider speaking to someone you trust for advice like a family or whānau member, close friend, community or cultural leader, or your Victim Support Worker.

You can anonymously report the incident by phone or by submitting an online form to Crime Stoppers.

Court cases can take some time and the experience may be unfamiliar but getting help and knowing what to expect can make things easier. Your Support Worker can assist and support you throughout the process, including helping you navigate the justice system, deal with police and other government agencies, attend a restorative justice conference and write a Victim Impact Statement.

Any sudden death that is unexpected, violent or suspicious will be investigated by a coroner. Coroners are responsible for determining the details surrounding the death, including how, where, when, and why it occurred. This information is important in listing the cause of death on the official death certificate. It is a complex process that can vary according to the different circumstances of the death but is handled carefully and respectfully by those involved.

Advice and information is available from Aotearoa New Zealand embassies in the country concerned and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) can help. They can liaise with New Zealand Police and the country the person died in about the local investigation and justice process.

MFAT can let you know about:

Official processes required in the country the person died in.

Available local burial or cremation options and any requirements that must be met.

Contact details for funeral directors in that country who could manage the funeral or tangihanga.

How you can bring back the person’s body or ashes (repatriation) to Aotearoa New Zealand.

If a person’s body or their ashes are being returned to Aotearoa New Zealand

The immediate family or whānau can ask a funeral director in Aotearoa New Zealand about the options they have for arranging for their loved one's body or ashes to be repatriated (brought back to New Zealand).

Urgent travel

If you live overseas but the death of someone close to you has happened in Aotearoa New Zealand, the bereaved family or whānau are able to access some assistance here in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Manaaki Tāngata | Victim Support
Call us 24/7 on 0800 842 846 to be connected to a Support Worker for assistance.

The Ministry of Justice's Victims Information Centre
Find information, advice and support. Contact them here.

Support through the criminal justice system
Look in this directory to find a New Zealand lawyer

Some financial support
ACC may accept a claim for accidental death which would provide financial support to cover some costs when the death of a New Zealander has been confirmed by police as murder or manslaughter. If you're overseas contact ACC on +64 7 848 7400

Your chosen funeral director can do as little or as much as you want them to do. Talk with your funeral director about what you would like, including any cultural or religious rituals you want honoured. Ask them about costs and payment options, so you can make choices that are manageable.

A funeral director helps bereaved families and whānau in several ways, including:

collecting the person’s body from the mortuary and caring for them at their funeral home until burial or cremation

providing information about necessary legal requirements after a death

registering the death and helping families get a copy of the death certificate

explaining how you can bring back the person’s body or ashes (repatriation) to Aotearoa New Zealand.

preparing the body for viewing if the family wishes this and it is possible

fulfilling the family’s choices for the funeral, tangihanga (tangi), or memorial event

checking if the person’s legal will requested certain funeral arrangements

organising cremation or burial procedures that meet necessary requirements

helping families apply for financial assistance, if needed

If you and your immediate family or whānau prefer to organise a burial or cremation without a funeral director

If you are experiencing family violence and harm, consider making a safety plan. This is a plan of future actions you can take to keep you and your family and whānau members safe if you feel threatened or are in immediate danger. Everyone’s situation is different; Manaaki Tāngata | Victim Support and other local support services can help you to prepare an individual plan that works for you, when the time is right.

Reporting what happened to police as soon as possible can keep you or others from experiencing further harm but you can still report a crime to police regardless of how long ago it happened.

The tragic death of someone close to us is always distressing, and when it happens unexpectedly or in some cases violently, it can be even more challenging. We might hear the news from others or have witnessed the person’s death ourselves, and the shock can leave us unsure about what we need to do.

A lot needs to happen within the first few days after a death and many people and agencies become involved. They understand how distressing this time is will support you through it respectfully and with care.

Call the National Sexual Harm Helpline Safe to Talk, a 24/7 free, confidential helpline that provides non-judgmental support to individuals of any gender who have experienced sexual harm.

Safe to Talk can provide referrals to specialised support including for Māori, Pasifika, migrants and refugees, LGBTTQI+, and male survivors, and they offer helpful information about sexual harm, local support agencies, and what to expect if you choose to report the crime to the police.

If your first language is not English, they have interpreter services available for over 40+ languages.‍

Free call 0800 044 334 or text 4334

Website and online live chat www.safetotalk.nz

Support is here for you when things get tough. You don't have to face it alone. Reach out to these confidential and non-judgmental services to discuss your situation and get the help you need.


Free 24/7 helpline for counselling support for anyone who is stressed, needs someone to talk to, or is feeling overwhelmed.

Citizens Advice Bureau | Ngā Pou Whakawhirinaki o Aotearoa

Visit your local CAB in person, search their website, or call for free, confidential support about your rights and how to access community or justice services you need.

Depression NZ

Free 24/7 depression helpline and information and resources to help individuals dealing with depression in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Family Services Directory

Directory of nationwide support providers who can help families and whānau cope with common issues and problems.

Lifeline Aotearoa

Free 24/7 helpline to support the emotional wellbeing of New Zealanders and connect people to support that helps them cope through a difficult situation.

Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand

Nationwide directory of GPs, mental health counsellors and services, and information for anyone in need of mental health support.

New Zealand Relay

Helps people who are deaf, hard of hearing, speech-impaired, and deafblind to connect with support services over the phone.

Rural Support Trust

Free local and critical assistance to farmers and rural communities facing hardships from extreme weather events to health and wellbeing challenges.

Skylight Trust

Counselling, resources, and a specialist support library for children, young people, and adults who are experiencing any kind of grief, loss or trauma, including after a homicide or suicide.

Talking Works NZ

A directory of professional counsellors around Aotearoa New Zealand.

Aotearoa New Zealand experiences different natural disasters, including extreme storms, cyclones, flooding, earthquakes and volcanic activity, that pose significant risks and hazards to people and property.

It is important to be prepared and stay informed about environmental and weather-related disasters, as they can have significant consequences. They can occur rapidly, becoming threatening without warning, at any time of the day or night. These disasters can cause disruption, property damage, injuries, and even fatalities, adding to the emotional impact on individuals affected by them.

Experiencing changes to your daily life, surrounding environment, community, and to your home or property can be disorienting and overwhelming. The emotional and financial impacts can be hard to deal with if you have lost your home or valued possessions and are facing potential evacuation, relocation, or the daunting task of restoring or rebuilding.

During such challenging times, families, whānau, friends, neighbours, local businesses and communities often come together to support one another as they cope with the aftermath and recovery process.


How we can help



First steps you can take

Stay safe

Different natural disasters will require slightly different responses but always ensure you prioritise your safety before, during, and after a significant natural event to avoid the possibility of harm. If you have a household emergency plan, put it into action.

In the event of rising floodwaters or a tsunami threat, don’t wait for official warnings. Take immediate action to move yourself, others, and any accessible pets or livestock to higher ground as quickly as possible. Avoid driving or walking through flood waters unless absolutely necessary to ensure personal safety.

If you have experienced an earthquake or volcanic unrest, stay indoors where you are safest. If the earthquake lasts longer than a minute or is strong enough to make it difficult to stand, move quickly to the nearest high ground or as far inland as you can out of tsunami evacuation zones.

You can listen to the radio or TV for advice on what to do, or visit the NEMA Civil Defence website for updates on current emergencies. It’s important you follow the directions of police or other emergency services who may request certain actions, such as evacuation. Be prepared to evacuate quickly.



Get medical help

If you, a family member, or others have been injured, or are unwell from the after-effects such as smoke, ashfall, or water-borne illnesses, get medical assistance as soon as you can.

If you are in an emergency health situation call 111 for an ambulance.  Local community sites may also set up first aid relief - check with your local Civil Defence group.

Keep informed

If the power goes out, a solar or battery-powered radio (or your car radio) can help you keep up to date with the latest news. If your area has cellular service, use social media or text messages instead of calling to keep phone lines clear for emergency calls.


If you have witnessed or discovered the incident



Practical matters

Practical support if there has been a bereavement


After the natural disaster

  • Continue to follow official advice from your local Civil Defence Emergency Management Group, the Department of Conservation (for specific areas), local authorities, and emergency services.
  • Stay alert for extended rainfall, flooding, landslides, earthquake aftershocks and debris hazards.
  • When you are safe to do so, check on your neighbours or anyone who may need help.
  • Continue to prioritise your health and safety and avoid contaminated areas if you can.

Going back onto your property

Do not enter your severely damaged house or property unless an emergency services official has given you permission to. Your health and safety must come first.  Earthquake or flood damage can cause dangerous hazards. There can be, for example, carcinogenic ash and toxic gases that are unsafe to inhale, or electrical wiring or gas outlets that need professional checking or disconnecting, unstable house foundations, or contaminated water and mould in the home.

If you are granted access to your home, prioritise locating your essential items such as medication, health equipment, valuables, personal identification cards and papers, insurance information and other key documents or records you will need.

If you’re renting, let your landlord/landlady or housing agency know as soon as possible about any urgent repairs that must be done.

If you can't return to your home or property

After a flooding disaster, It is possible that your house or business may be assessed as being 'unsanitary' if flood waters have been through it. This means you may not be able to continue to occupy the building until restoration has been completer, repairs have been made, or safety checks have been completed by an emergency services official.

After an earthquake your home may have sustained structural damage making it unfit to live in.

If you can't return to your home, you’ll need to organise some accommodation. You might need to stay with family, whānau, friends, in a local community shelter, or in a local motel for a night or two. It may be for longer if there has been serious damage to your property.

Secure your home

It’s a good idea to get your home secured, as soon as possible. This may include fixing a broken window or door, or cleaning up debris when it is safe to do so. If you have pets, make sure they haven’t been let out through an open door, broken window or gate.

If your house can no longer be lived in, board up openings and secure your property to discourage trespassers. Your Emergency Services contact can advise you about this.

If you’re renting, let your landlord/landlady or housing agency know as soon as possible that you are unable to return to the property.

Take photographs or video

Only if it’s safe to do so, you can take photos and/or videos of the scene if there has been damage. Record the actions you take to keep your home safe, sanitary, and weather-tight,and keep a copy of any receipts for insurance purposes. This will help insurance companies with their investigation (where applicable).

Inform key people or businesses

After the incident notify key people and organisations for guidance, assistance, and support:

  • Contact your insurance company (if applicable) to follow their instructions and make an insurance claim as soon as possible.
  • Inform family, whānau, and friends about the situation.
  • Notify neighbors to keep them informed.
  • Update your bank or mortgage company about your property.
  • Inform your employer about the incident as you may need to take time off work or you may be unable to access work documents or devices if you work from home.
  • Inform your child's school to ensure they receive appropriate support.
  • Contact relevant service providers such as electricity, gas, water, phone and internet companies, the post office, and your local council. They will provide guidance on necessary procedures and explain the next steps to help you move forward.



Your private home insurance policy should include an amount for natural disaster insurance, which is provided by the Earthquake Commission (EQC) | Toka Tū Ake and is called EQCover.

Local teamwork

It can really help when families, whānau, friends, and neighbours come together to support each other during and after a natural disaster. Communities often unite to clean up debris and damage, fostering genuine bonds and offering unique local support. This shared support is found to be encouraging and helpful by many people.

Managing media interest



Common reactions and how to cope

A natural disaster is a shocking, sudden and overwhelming disruption to everyday life. If you have survived a natural disaster, you may have many emotions and practical issues to deal with. If you have had loved ones, including pets, killed or injured in the disaster, you will be grieving their loss. You may be injured yourself and facing a long recovery or an uncertain future. If you had a lucky escape, you may feel great relief, but you may also feel guilt for surviving if others were not as fortunate.

You may be grieving for the property and/or possessions you have lost and feeling overwhelmed if you have lost everything. You may also be profoundly affected by the damage around you and the upheaval. After a natural disaster, the practical and emotional challenges of evacuating, relocating, restoring or rebuilding are huge.

You may have lots of “what if” questions as you try to make sense of the impact of the disaster. It is common to feel that the world is a less safe place after a disaster, and you may find yourself feeling on edge and fearful for your safety.



Supporting others

Supporting children and young people

If children or young people live in a property or community that’s been badly affected by a natural event, they are likely to need extra reassurance and support, especially if things of theirs have been lost or damaged or if they have been displaced from their home. It’s common for children and young people to experience on-going anxieties after a serious natural disaster.


Supporting victims, witnesses, or the bereaved



Support services




Useful websites and other information


Downloadable resources