National Flood Risk Management Programme

This directory page provides information on plans to mitigate the risk of flooding at high-risk schools around the country.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Boards
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Property Managers
  • Caretakers


The Ministry of Education oversees more than 2500 schools across the country, and many are near the coast or inland waterways. That means they are potentially at risk from flooding and erosion.

The Ministry is a considerable stakeholder in terms of activities that may have an impact on existing and future educational facilities and assets across Aotearoa.

The Ministry assesses population changes, school roll fluctuations and other trends and challenges for education provision to identify changing needs and respond to them effectively.  

We want to have a better understanding of flooding and erosion risks for schools and how they may change in the future.

Climate change increases these risks. It’s difficult to predict the precise impact climate has on sea level rise and on storm events and when they may happen.

This uncertainty means we need to be prepared with options for several different scenarios for schools that are at highest risk from climate change.

The Ministry has responsibility not only for all state schools owned by the Crown, but also those state schools not owned by the Crown, such as designated character schools and state-integrated schools.

Scope of programme

This National Flood Risk Management Programme started as a desktop analysis of low-lying school sites potentially at risk from coastal flooding due to sea level rise. See ‘Coastal Flood Risk’ below for an outline of the progress this first tranche of work has made. 

Beginning in September 2022, the programme broadened and is now also exploring the risks of flooding for schools in areas away from the coast.
This expanded scope aims to include schools potentially at risk of flooding from rivers and other waterways, as well as schools subject to the erosion effects of water, either at the coast or inland.

The goal of this broader programme is to develop a management approach for all schools facing flooding and erosion challenges.

The NFRM programme scope has recently been expanded to include river flooding and to support broader remediation and mitigation measures being undertaken by councils, local authorities, and other government agencies across Aotearoa.

Coastal flood risk

The programme initially used existing data from a variety of sources and some historic flooding information to establish that 103 schools – 50 in the South Island and 53 in the North Island – that are likely to be at risk from coastal flooding. 

Note: Our first draft analysis generated a list of 111 schools. Eight of those schools were subsequently removed from the list when further information found sea level rise an unlikely risk at those locations.

Extreme sea levels (due to storms or high winds) could have an impact on 48 of the 103 schools on the list, without allowing for climate change or sea level rise. If the sea level rises less than one metre, a further 22 of these schools may be impacted by coastal flooding. The remaining 33 schools may experience coastal flooding if sea levels rise by more than one metre.

View the list of 103 schools [PDF, 146 KB] identified by the programme. For further information, please contact the project team at

We began the coastal flooding part of the programme by conducting a pilot study.

In September 2022, we made on-site assessments at five schools in Wellington and five schools on the West Coast of the South Island. The ten-school selection gave our survey teams a variety of school settings, a combination of open coast and harbour locations, and a mix of school sizes.

The information gathered is being used to develop and test our assessment methodology and advise on mitigation options for all 103 schools we’ve identified as potentially at-risk from coastal flooding.

Adaptive Pathways

The programme team has reviewed site assessments made at the ten pilot schools. A summary of findings will be posted here in due course.

Pilot study schools

North Island (Wellington)

  • Muritai School
  • Paremata School
  • Evans Bay Intermediate School
  • Seatoun School
  • Randwick School

South Island (West Coast)

  • Granity School
  • Paroa School, Greymouth
  • Blaketown School, Greymouth
  • Karamea Area School
  • Haast School

When we visited these ten schools, we looked for these details:

  • the school’s elevation above sea level
  • the levels of main building floors
  • any structures built to prevent flooding
  • any evidence of, or anecdotes about, previous flooding
  • location of critical infrastructure (power, heating, data storage)
  • school access, such as key bus routes and access roads. 

Risk map of schools likely to be affected by coastal flooding  

Map of schools likely to be affected by coastal flooding

Map of schools likely to be affected by coastal flooding

Click here for interactive map(external link)


Unlikely to be exposed to coastal hazards 

Uncertain exposure 

Likely to be exposed to coastal hazards 

Tai Tokerau 






Central North 




Central South 












Figure: Initial screening of all schools’ exposure to coastal hazards

National Flood Risk Management Framework

An assessment framework was developed by external consultants for the NFRM Programme to assess each school to determine which sites may be at risk from coastal inundation, now and into the future.

The framework:

  • details steps required to assess risks
  • classifies schools into risk categories
  • identifies requirements for developing adaptive pathways or remedial actions.
Framework for assessing risk

Figure: Framework for assessing risk at each school site (subject to change) 

Framework for assessing risk at each school site [DOCX, 65 KB]


The Programme will produce three key pieces of documentation. Each document will be made available here as it is finalised.​

National Flood Risk Management Plan

An overarching framework for how schools can be assessed, and their risk level determined.​

Cover Programme

Figure: Flood Risk Management Plan

National Flood Risk Adaptation Plan

This plan will detail adaptive pathways for at-risk schools as required.

Cover adaptation plan

Figure: National Adaptation Plan

National Flood Risk Advocacy Plan

This plan will outline the method, stakeholders, and timing for engaging with councils​ and other local authorities.

Advocacy plan

Figure: Advocacy Plan

Reference Group

The role of the Reference Group is to provide operational context for the NFRM Programme by:

  • Providing advice to the NFRM Programme on cultural, community, end user, industry/sector and agency perspectives, priorities, and concerns relating to the programme.
  • Providing advice to the NFRM Programme meetings and where relevant members will be asked to attend NFRM meetings.
  • Identifying potential localised benefits, risks, commercial/operating models, and to advise the NFRM Programme on the best methodology to maximise said benefits.
  • Providing insight about the optimal approach to minimise operational disruption during the discovery phase of the NFRM Programme, whilst providing high levels of end user engagement and customer service.
  • Ensuring that NFRM Programme operational risks, interdependencies and issues are identified, managed and/or appropriately recorded.
  • Providing guidance on how a communication and engagement strategy for multiple stakeholder groups can be tailored to provide the most favourable outcome.
  • Being strong advocates for the NFRM Programme.

Responsibilities of the Reference Group:

  • To act as an initial sounding-board for any systems, processes or procedures proposed as part of the NFRM Programme. 
  • To monitor progress against the programme schedule and provide input on coordinating programme delivery with operational outputs. 
  • To review action points to ensure they are resolved or completed in an accurate and timely manner. 
  • To monitor and review programme risks and ensure mitigation actions remain effective. 
  • To ensure lessons learnt are captured and fed into a cycle of continuous improvement. 

The group meet virtually once a month, for approximately 60 minutes.

We have a representation of eight tumuaki in our NFRM Reference Group. If you are interested in joining the group, please submit an expression of interest to

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions for the National Flood Risk Management Programme [PDF, 295 KB]

Is my school on the National Flood Risk Management Programme’s list of at-risk schools?

Here is the full list of schools evaluated [PDF, 146 KB] as potentially at risk of coastal flooding. The list was generated from assessments of potential coastal flood risk only and consists of coastal schools that are low lying, located at (or just above) sea level and where sea level rise due to climate change may cause flooding problems in the future.  (Note: the criteria for this list do not include potential risk of river flooding or erosion)

My school is on the list. What happens next?

Given the extended period over which sea level rise is expected to happen, the Programme will set out the expected timeframes indicating when schools may be impacted. We will then work with the community and local councils, to develop, where required, a proposed plan and timeframe for implementation with each school. 

My school is not on the list. Why not?

Criteria for including a school on the list were applied primarily from elevation and location data, i.e., how close to the coastline and how high above sea level a school site appears to be. Please contact us if you feel your school site is at-risk from flooding.

How are schools determined to be at-risk?

Our analysis determines ‘at-risk’ as a combination of proximity to the coast and low elevation from sea level. The effects of sea level rise for a specific school may be influenced by local geographical features, council mitigation efforts, weather patterns, and other variables.

What puts a school into the ‘at-risk’ category?

We consider these factors:

  • Flooding hazards (due to extreme weather events or other factors).
  • Potential impact on the Ministry’s education obligations.
  • Potential impact on the wider community. 
  • Potential for: 
    • Threat to safety of staff and students
    • Water supply compromised
    • Asset damage
    • Operation interruption
    • Access disruption
    • Disruption of civil defence activities.
  • Flood risks arising from climate change and sea level rise. 

What are the next steps for the Programme?

The NFRM Programme scope has recently been expanded to include river flooding. The goal of this broader project is to develop a management approach for all state schools facing flooding and erosion challenges. The Programme is developing the following plans, which include both short-term and long-term considerations.

  1. National Flood Risk Management Plan – an overarching framework for how schools are assessed and their risk level determined.
  2. National Flood Risk Advocacy Plan – a collaborative plan for supporting councils and other local authorities with their mitigation and adaptation strategies.
  3. National Flood Risk Adaptation Plan – detailing the adaptive pathways available for schools as required.

Our school’s 10YPP plan includes flood mitigation. Should we proceed with that work?

Please contact the NFRM team before proceeding with any flood-related works.

Our school has a Flood Management Plan. Is that part of this programme’s scope?

Yes, the NFRM team is gathering information about any plans schools have already developed. Please contact us at

Should we develop a Flood Management Plan for our school?

Yes, floods happen often in New Zealand, causing property damage and loss of life.  If your school's property has been flooded in the past or identified as at-risk then you should have a Flood Management Plan.

Do you have advice for schools who feel they may be at-risk?

In the first instance, talk to your Ministry Property Advisor if you have concerns about flood risk. Review the information available from National Civil Defence emergency preparedness(external link) and the Ministry’s Emergency Management Planning Advice for schools.

Contact the NFRM team at if you have further questions.

We already have an incident plan and emergency response guidance. Should flood-related measures be included in these?

Yes, flood preparedness and clean up should be part of a school’s Emergency Management Plan, particularly if your school has been identified as being at risk of flooding or has historically experienced flooding events. A template for an Emergency Management Plan is here [DOCX, 512 KB].

What should we do if the school has a flood?

  • Stay out of flood water. Never try to walk, swim or drive through flood water. Many flood fatalities are caused by people attempting to drive through water.
  • Stay informed in an emergency. Listen to the radio or follow your local Civil Defence group.(external link)
  • Refer to your school’s Emergency Management Plan [DOCX, 512 KB].
  • Listen to any advisory from emergency services or local Civil Defence authorities.
  • Be prepared to evacuate. Self-evacuate if you begin to feel unsafe.
  • Follow instructions about evacuation of your area.
  • Turn off water, electricity and gas if advised to.
  • Move dangerous items as high above the floor as possible. This includes electrical equipment and chemicals.

Where can we find more information about being prepared for a flood or other emergency?

The Ministry has useful guidance about what to do before, during and after an emergency here: Emergencies and traumatic incidents

What should we do after a flood?

Only return to the school site after Civil Defence and emergency services have told you it is safe to do so. It may not be safe to return even when floodwaters have receded.

Stay away from damaged areas. You might hamper rescue and other emergency operations and be at further risk from the residual effects of floods.

Look before you step. After a flood, the ground and floors may be slippery or covered with debris, including broken bottles and nails.

Help others in the community if you can, especially people who may need extra help.

What do we do if our property is damaged by a flood?

Do not do anything that puts your safety at risk or causes more damage to your property.

Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are certain it is not contaminated. Follow local council updates about the water supply and any ‘boil water’ notices. If you have your own drinking water supply, you should test it to ensure it is safe.

Contact your Property Advisor and take photos of damage. It will help speed up assessments of your claims. For more information on food safety during and after an emergency visit: Ministry for Primary Industries' website(external link).

Is there a short-term or long-term climate plan from the Ministry?

The National Flood Risk Management (NFRM) Programme was established to support state schools potentially at risk from coastal flooding due to sea level rise. An initial desktop analysis of low-lying coastal schools revealed 103 schools [PDF, 146 KB] as likely to be at risk of flooding

Has the National Flood Risk Management Programme developed a plan?

The NFRM Programme is developing the following plans, which include both short-term and long-term considerations.

  1. National Flood Risk Management Plan – an overarching framework for how schools are assessed, and their risk level determined.
  2. National Flood Risk Advocacy Plan – a collaborative plan for supporting councils and other local authorities with their mitigation and adaptation strategies.
  3. National Flood Risk Adaptation Plan – this will detail the adaptive pathways available for schools as required.

What is the projected cost of adaptation for schools at risk?

We are not at a stage in the programme to estimate potential costs. More information on the NFRM Programme’s scope is here(external link).

Further information

Useful links

National Flood Risk Management Programme

Template for school Emergency Management Plan [DOCX, 512 KB]

Emergencies and traumatic incidents

Civil Defence: local groups(external link)

National Civil Defence emergency preparedness - Get ready(external link)

Reference Documents

Report: Vulnerable Communities Exposed to Flood Hazard - Department of Internal Affairs(external link)

Draft national adaptation plan - Ministry for the Environment(external link)

Related articles

Edgecumbe township flood defenses to be replaced - Coast and Country News(external link) (December 2022)

'We need to get cracking' - As seas rise, time for planning running out - MSN(external link) (August 2022)

Plea for Govt funding as Westport flood plan balloons from $10m to $54m - link) (June 2022)

Govt promises support for Buller schools as series of flood events leave children fearful every time it rains - link) (February 2022)

Rising tides put up to 94 schools at risk of flooding and closures - link) (February 2021)

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