Who we are

We are everyday people; teachers, artists, lawyers, medical personnel, architects, mechanics, hairdressers, engineers… we come from all walks of life. NZRT8 is a dedicated group of around 40 – 50 volunteers, all ages, races and genders, who give our time to train and be prepared to respond in the event of a disaster in our region.

We prepare for emergencies by training weekly at various locations around Wellington. We cover many facets of search and rescue, as well as casualty welfare, storm and flood response and community liaison.

While our primary area of responsibility is Wellington City, we also have the capacity and capability to be deployed anywhere at any time.

We are constantly looking for ways to improve our capabilities to better support our communities.

Our history

The ‘Tawa Civil Defence Light Rescue Unit’ was established in 1971 by a group of concerned local residents. The main aim of this unit was to provide members of the local community with the skills to rescue those who become trapped in buildings (specifically timber framed residential buildings as common in the suburb) as a result of an earthquake.

The unit became part of the network of Volunteer Civil Defence Rescue Teams throughout New Zealand and has been involved in their development both nationally and locally ever since.

In December 1976 the unit was called out to assist in the Hutt Valley floods. In addition to the flooding deployment, an ongoing highlight in the team’s history has been its continued involvement in regional and national exercises.

In 1988 the team came under the control of what is now the Wellington City Council Emergency Management Office (WEMO) and its role expanded to include the responsibilities of a Community Emergency Centre. When WEMO withdrew support for rescue teams in 1995, the team continued to operate as a community funded rescue squad. It was one of the very few local rescue teams to survive the nineties, a decade that saw the number of CDC and rescue volunteers in Wellington City drop from more than 3,000 to less than 200.

When WEMO reactivated local rescue teams in 2001 to provide Wellington City with additional rescue resources in the event of any major emergency, the team returned to the control of WEMO, becoming ‘WCC Tawa Rescue’ and began working towards registration as an Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Response Team which was achieved in 2004.

2009 saw a reinvigoration of WEMO’s outlook on volunteers and the team expanded involvement with WEMO’s goals of greater volunteer integration with Emergency Management and towards building a resilient city prepared for any disaster.

Our Team

There is no one-size-fits-all member in our team. We all bring our own skill sets and experience, and it’s that diversity that makes the Wellington Emergency Response Team such an asset in an emergency.

Our members come from all walks of life. We have lawyers, teachers, accountants, software developers, medical professionals, project managers, artists, students from both the public and private sectors.

It also makes it a fun and interesting team to be part of.

Become a ‘casualty’ for a day in one of our training exercises.

Interested in joining the team? Click the button below and complete the on-line form.

Our 50th Anniversary

On Saturday December 3rd, our team along with our families and past team members gathered at the community centre in Johnsonville to celebrate 50 years since the first rescue team was established in 1971.

Gerry was MC for the afternoon with past members Phil, Missy and Jason describing their experiences and training before the days of OSH or Worksafe.

Liz from NEMA spoke on the important role volunteer teams, like NZRT8, have in supporting Civil Defence in a local or national state of emergency.

After a break for afternoon tea, Liz from NEMA presented several of our team members with long-service medals.

Yo for over 30 years’ service, Gavin for over 20 years ‘service, and Julian, Willy and Richard for over 10 years’ service.

There were reflections, acknowledgements and thanks from some of our current team members.

We had a few group photos. Finally, we cut the anniversary cake, which Jacqui had made. and had some cup-cakes with our logo on.