Preparing for emergencies, traumatic incidents, evacuations and lockdowns

Your school or early learning service may face a natural disaster, pandemic, criminal acts or student suicide. An emergency event may require an evacuation or a lockdown. It’s important to be prepared for these events.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Boards
  • All Early Learning Services
  • Teachers and Kaiako
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Administrators
  • General Public

This guidance supports schools and early learning services to comply with health and safety regulations. Emergency plans are mandatory for all schools and early learning services. 

Emergency planning

The Emergency management template can be edited to help you create your own emergency plan.

Emergency Management Plan [DOCX, 512 KB]

The emergency planning guide provides practical guidance and information to help schools and early learning services prepare for emergencies, evacuation, shelter in place, and lockdown situations in their unique contexts.

Emergency Planning Guidance [PDF, 521 KB]

This quick checklist may help you when reviewing your emergency management plan and preparations.

Emergency planning checklist

You can use this template to summarise the key emergency management information parents and caregivers should know about your school or early learning service.

Emergency information for parents and caregivers – template [DOC, 55 KB]

This guide focuses on the recovery of people and what needs to be considered to establish systems and clear procedures to best support the community in the aftermath of a traumatic event.

Traumatic Incidents: Guidance for managing student and staff wellbeing [PDF, 751 KB]

Mataara emergency contact tool

In an emergency we want to connect with you as quickly and simply as possible, and we especially want to know if you need our help.

How we can contact you quickly in an emergency

We have developed Mataara, a mass-contact tool that allows us to quickly text message and email you in the event of an emergency in your area (such as a fire, flood or earthquake). You can then reply letting us know the status of your school or early learning service. We collate this information and use it to plan and prioritise our response. We can also provide this collated information to other agencies such as NZ Police and Civil Defence.

If we don’t hear back from a school or early learning service, we will quickly follow up to see if everything is OK.

Your response to the emergency text

After we send you a text regarding an emergency, you simply reply by text with a number (1, 2, 3, 4 or 5), what each number means will be explained in the text we send you. An example of a message you might receive is:

Message from MOE: We’ve been advised of flooding in your area. Please reply:

    1. (Open)
    2. (Open-NEED HELP)
    3. (Closed)
    4. (Closed-NEED HELP), or
    5. (Do not normally operate today)

If you need help we will contact you as soon as possible.

You can also add additional wording to your reply. For example “4 – Classrooms flooded” or “3 – We have asked parents to pick their children up now as roads may not stay open”.

Areas without mobile phone coverage

If you are in an area without mobile phone coverage and cannot reply to the text, in most emergencies you will also receive an email. It will have a link for you to follow and a form on which you can select the same options as above, and have the opportunity to comment on additional property damage information (if relevant).

Ministry text number 8707

Mataara is free for you to use. The text comes from 8707 which will only be used by the Ministry. You may like to save this number to your phone as assurance that an emergency text has come from us.

Your contact details

Mataara uses your emergency contact mobile phone and email address (one of each). If your information needs updating please contact your local regional office to let them know.

If you have an emergency

Please note that you cannot initiate the emergency message process, you can only respond when we send you a text or email. If you would like to notify us of an emergency, you should do so in the normal way - contact emergency services if necessary and your local regional Ministry of Education office.


Find out how to prepare and implement a pandemic plan.

Suicide prevention

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