The ‘Know Your Region’ series is designed to support unit and individual professional military education on the Indo-Pacific region.


New Zealand is rich in environmental beauty. But the same forces that created the beauty also have the capacity to destroy. New Zealand sits on the south-western edge of the Pacific Rim and Ring of Fire. This area is known for high levels of tectonic plate activity resulting in natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand is also in an area which is increasingly prone to tropical cyclones and severe storms. New Zealand’s high number of natural disasters means that the government prioritises structural resilience and environmental protection.

For further information on New Zealand, see the resource below:


  1. New Zealand profile – Timeline – BBC News
  2. What is the Ring of Fire and how does it affect New Zealand? | SBS News
  3. Pacific Ring of Fire – Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Christchurch Earthquakes 2010-2011

Over a series of months, a number of earthquake tremors occurred in and around the New Zealand city of Christchurch. The first of which happened in early September of 2010 and the latest in December of 2011. The most severe shocks occurred on the 4th of September with a magnitude of 7.1 and the 22nd of February 2011 with a magnitude of 6.3.

On the 4th of September 2010 the Darfield earthquake occurred 40km west of Christchurch. The later named Greendale Fault became physically visible at ground level as a result of this tremor. On the 22nd of February 2011 an aftershock was generated along another undiscovered fault line at a relatively shallow depth in Heathcote Valley in Christchurch. The majority of the destruction occurred during this event with many buildings destroyed or heavily damaged in Christchurch. The town of Lyttelton, near the epicentre of the original shock, was heavily damaged. On the 13th of June 2011 two large tremors occurred in the Christchurch metropolitan area.

The earthquake injured thousands and killed 185 people in building collapses, falling bricks, buses crushed by crumbling walls and falling rocks. Many structures that survived the tremors eventually collapsed or were beyond repair and requiring demolition. Christchurch’s central business district was quickly cordoned off under a state of national emergency and NZDF personnel were called on to aid in recovery efforts.

Christchurch is now rebuilt with many of the heavily damaged areas unrecognisable after significant sustained construction efforts. 10,000 homes required rebuilding and 3,500 were demolished. Many residents decided to rehome in other parts of New Zealand and in Australia rather than remain living in the region.

Much like Australia, natural disasters are a part of living in New Zealand. The nation’s people need to be prepared for when a disaster strikes. The government recognises that natural disasters will continue and they must be prepared to fund considerable clean up, reconstruction, recovery and relief packages. This is a key reason why climate change is a major talking point for the New Zealand Government.

For further information on the Christchurch Earthquake, see the resources below:


  1. Christchurch earthquakes of 2010-11 | Facts, History, & Summary | Britannica
  2. Christchurch earthquake kills 185 | NZHistory, New Zealand history online
  3. Christchurch earthquake, New Zealand 2011 | Disasters (
  4. The 2011 Christchurch earthquake – Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand
  5. Before and after: how the 2011 earthquake changed Christchurch | Christchurch | The Guardian

Christchurch Mosque Attacks 2019

At around 1:40pm on a Friday on the 15th of March 2019 a gunman conducted an attack on two mosques in Christchurch, the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre. These attacks lasted just ten minutes, indiscriminately targeting inside Al Noor Mosque before driving to Linwood Mosque nearby. Abdul Aziz was attending Friday prayers with his family when this second attack happened, he managed to distract and eventually scare the attacker to have him flee in his vehicle. Police Senior Constables Scott Carmody and Jim Manning then apprehended and arrested the suspect in his vehicle. Two awards of New Zealand’s highest bravery honour, the New Zealand Cross, were awarded, along with four bravery decorations and four bravery medals. 

51 people died and around a further 50 were injured as a result of the attacks. New Zealand mourned as a country, with the Government pushing for unity regardless of differences in faith. They did so by opening parliament with a prayer in Arabic rather than the usual Parliamentary Prayer. In addresses from the then Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition they both condemned the attack as an attack on all New Zealanders.

The New Zealand Government recognised the need for gun law reforms and quickly passed the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines and Parts) Amendment Bill in just 11 days. All but one of the 120 MPs voted in support of the Bill. In September of 2019 the Arms Legislation Bill was introduced to more tightly control the possession and use of firearms. The Bill enhanced the firearms licencing system already in place and created a register for licence holders logging information about their firearms and ammunition. 

For further information on the Christchurch Mosque Attacks, see the resources below:


  1. Christchurch shootings: How the attacks unfolded - BBC News
  2. 2019 – Operation Deans Targeted Terrorist Attacks, Christchurch, 15 March | New Zealand Police
  3. The Christchurch mosque attacks: how Parliament responded – New Zealand Parliament ( 
  4. New Zealand mosque shooting in Christchurch | NBC News