National Flood Risk Management Programme

This 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 is a considerable stakeholder in activities that may have an impact on existing and future education facilities and assets across Aotearoa.

We assess population changes, school roll fluctuations and other trends and challenges for education provision. This helps us identify changing needs and respond to them effectively.

Understanding the risk of flooding

We oversee more than 2,500 schools across the country. Many are near the coast or inland waterways. This means they are potentially at risk from flooding and erosion.

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, although it is difficult to precisely predict the impacts of climate change on sea level rise and extreme storm events, and when these things 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.

Scope of the programme

The National Flood Risk Management Programme (NFRM) started as a desktop analysis of low-lying school sites potentially at risk from coastal flooding due to sea level rise.

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 – are likely to be at risk from coastal flooding. 

Beginning in September 2022, the programme broadened its scope 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 schools facing flooding and erosion challenges.

The programme also supports broader remediation and mitigation measures being undertaken by councils, local authorities and other government agencies across Aotearoa.

Pilot study

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

In September 2022, we made on-site assessments at 5 schools in Wellington and 5 schools on the West Coast of the South Island. The 10-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.

Our on-site assessments included raw data on elevation levels, latitude and longitude, surrounding bodies of water, the community setting, subsidence and tectonics, and school access and egress. Also included were details of infrastructure on the site, general site descriptions, anecdotal evidence of historical flooding, notes about key landmarks and other relevant information.

Following the site visits, adaptive pathway reports outlining a range of future risk management options were developed. These reports summarise planning at a local and regional government level, and information about past, present, and future vulnerability of the schools to flooding and offer considered and preferred adaptive pathways for the schools, in the short-, medium-, and long-term. The adaptive pathways are not mandated by the Ministry but could inform future work at each school.

Both the raw data and the reports can be used to inform the Ministry's assessment methodology and development of mitigation options for all schools we've identified as at-risk from flooding.

Pilot study schools

The programme team has reviewed the on-site assessments made at the ten pilot schools. Adaptive pathway reports have been developed and shared with each of the schools. To read a full report, click on a school name below. Note: a glossary of technical terms can be found in the appendices of each report.The programme team has reviewed the on-site assessments made at the ten pilot schools. Adaptive pathway reports have been developed and shared with each of the schools. To read a full report, click on a school name below.

Note: a glossary of technical terms can be found in the appendices of each report.

North Island (Wellington)

South Island (West Coast)

When we visited these 10 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. 

Schools at risk of flooding  

This map shows which schools are likely to be affected by coastal and inland flooding.

See an interactive map:

Floor risk programme map(external link)

Map of New Zealand showing the schools that are at risk of coastal flooding

Surface and river flooding

The programme has incorporated data for schools at risk of surface and river flooding using newer data sets and updated the coastal data set.

  • Latest assessments show 1,102 schools at risk of coastal or of surface and river flooding.
  • Initial data shows the risk varies from relatively low impact (for example, flooding of carpark or fields) to more serious (more than 50% of buildings affected).

National Flood Risk Management Programme school list [PDF, 730 KB]

To ensure that no school is omitted from consideration, schools of all risk levels have been included in the figures below. It may be the case that upon further investigation some schools will be able to be removed from the list or will require only minor remediation works.

Flood risk type




River and surface






It is worth noting that the recent, more accurate data mean that the risk assessment of a given school may have changed (from 'at risk' to 'not at risk' or vice versa).

But this assessment is not set in stone. If you have any concerns about a school’s assessment, contact the Flood Risk Management Programme team, at the below email.

View the list of 1,102 schools identified by the programme. For further information, email the project team:

Flood risk type


Te Tai Raro

Te Tai Whenua

Te Tai Runga


42 5 18 19

River and surface

920 344 231 345


140 40 60 40


1,102 389 309 404

Graph that shows what regions are as risk from different types of flooding

Assessment data

The assessment of risk at coastal schools is based on the latest NIWA data sets. This includes elevation and distance from hazards. It can change as newer data are collected.

The surface and river flooding risk is based on councils’ information about where their flood hazard zones are.

However, councils do not have consistent method for defining flood hazard zones and some work has to be done to assess risk at each school.

National Flood Risk Management Framework

A framework was developed to assess each school and determine which sites may be at risk of flooding 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.

Assessment and approach: Responsibility framework [PDF, 23 KB]

What the programme will achieve

The programme will produce 3 key pieces of documentation.

Each document will be made available here as it is finalised.​

National Flood Risk Management Plan

The National Flood Risk Management Plan is the overarching framework for how schools can be assessed and their risk level determined.​

Cover Programme

National Flood Risk Adaptation Plan

The National Flood Risk Adaptation Plan will detail adaptive pathways for at-risk schools as required.

Cover adaptation plan

National Flood Risk Advocacy Plan

The National Flood Risk Advocacy plan will outline the method, stakeholders, and timing for engaging with councils​ and other local authorities.

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 8 tumuaki in our NFRM reference group. If you are interested in joining the group, send an expression of interest to

Frequently asked questions

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

Below is the full list of schools evaluated as potentially at risk of coastal flooding.

National Flood Risk Management Programme school list [PDF, 730 KB]

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.

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 and the possible severity.

We will then work with the community and local councils where required to develop 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. That is, 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 or other body or water 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 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 plans outlined under 'what the programme will achieve' above. These plans include both short-term and long-term considerations.

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

Please contact your property advisor or the NFRM team before proceeding with any flood-related works.

Should our school develop a flood management plan?

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.

Template: School emergency management plan [DOCX, 520 KB]

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

In the first instance, talk to your property advisor if you have concerns about flood risk. 

You should also review:

National Civil Defence emergency preparedness(external link)

Emergencies and traumatic incidents

Email the NFRM team at if you have more questions.

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.

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. 

Emergencies and traumatic incidents

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.
  • Refer to your school’s emergency management plan (template above).
  • 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.

Local civil defence groups – National Emergency Management Agency(external link)

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

We have useful guidance about what to do before, during and after an emergency.

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: 

Food safety in emergencies – Ministry for Primary Industries(external link)

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

The National Flood Risk Management Programme was established to support state schools potentially at risk from coastal flooding due to sea level rise.

An initial desktop analysis of schools revealed 1,102 schools as likely to be at risk of flooding.

National Flood Risk Management Programme school list [PDF, 730 KB]

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

We are not at a stage in the programme to estimate potential costs.

See 'scope of the programme' above for more information about the goal of the programme.

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