A historic new agreement signed today will provide a nationwide boost to New Zealand’s emergency preparedness and response.
The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Airbnb for the provision of accommodation to people displaced as a result of an emergency and distribution of preparedness and response materials.
MCDEM Director Sarah Stuart-Black says, “Emergencies such as floods, fires and earthquakes often result in people needing to leave their homes, not knowing when they will be able to return. While most people stay with friends and family, not everybody has that option, and we need to ensure everyone has somewhere safe and comfortable to stay.”
Mrs Stuart-Black says the agreement will help to supplement existing emergency accommodation arrangements, particularly in large scale disasters and evacuations.
“This agreement will provide displaced people with accommodation free of charge. This is made possible by Airbnb connecting displaced people with hosts. It’s a great way to tap into the kindness of strangers. Connecting displaced people with willing hosts can be quite a tricky exercise; this provides a simple and effective mechanism to make good use of available properties,” Mrs Stuart-Black said.
Airbnb Tourism Advisory Board Member Professor the Hon Bob Carr says, “Natural disasters – both preparing for and responding to them – are a collective responsibility. Everyone has a role to play in keeping the community safe and helping those in need. This landmark partnership will help bolster New Zealand’s emergency preparedness and response.”
The landmark partnership is the first of its kind in the Pacific region and only the second national-level partnership behind the United States. It follows a similar agreement signed with Auckland Council in 2016.
Over the past few weeks, Airbnb has activated the program in response to the California Wildfires and New Zealand flooding. In California more than 2,200 hosts have offered housing to those who need it, more than 1,800 people have been housed and emergency messages have been sent to more than 40,000 hosts and guests in the affected areas. In New Zealand, emergency messages were sent to more than 8,300 hosts and guests in the areas affected by flooding.