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Councils join forces as Civil Defence supports Covid-19 response


Hamilton City Council and Waikato District Council have joined forces to operate a North Waikato Combined Emergency Operations Centre (NWCEOC) to co-ordinate community support during the Covid-19 National State of Emergency.  

The public health response is being led by the Ministry of Health and District Health Boards, but at a local level there is a raft of community support requirements to be managed as the nation deals with the wider wellbeing needs of residents and visitors.  

Merv Balloch, one of four shift Controllers, says the combined team have done an amazing job in a short time to create a fully operational centre almost overnight. The NWEOC has built a new team structure, provided shared technology access, integrated systems and built a staff roster from people working remotely as well as from centres in Ngaruawahia and Hamilton.  

“Even while we have been bedding in these systems our teams have been co-ordinating community welfare needs, liaising with government agencies and local support agencies and identifying at-risk groups and individuals. The teams have been working closely with response teams at both of our partner Councils. They are also providing logistics support for the establishment of community-based assessment centres as well as a variety of other tasks,” Mr Balloch says.  

“The overall Waikato Civil Defence response is being managed by a regional Emergency Co-ordination Centre in Hamilton, but to reduce duplication of resources, to enhance sustainability of the response and to free up staff at individual councils throughout the wider Waikato we have set up combined teams. Hauraki, Matamata-Piako, and Thames-Coromandel District Councils have established a similar CEOC in Thames.  

“This is an unprecedented time for our country and our region. The wellbeing of our communities is paramount and the creation of these combined centres is one way we can fine-tune our response to ensure that most resources can be directed to those who are vulnerable and in need, as efficiently as possible,” Mr Balloch says.  

“Between the two Councils we are sharing operations, logistics, communication, intelligence and planning functions, as well as setting up separate welfare teams for each Council area. I’d like to acknowledge the ‘can-do’ attitude and the co-operation by all involved as we support the great work being done at a local level by other Council and Civil Defence staff locally, across the Waikato region and nationally.  

“There’s a lot to be done, but the combined approach is another step on the way to getting through this difficult time,” Mr Balloch says.  

Freephone 0800 800 405  

If you live in the Waikato region and you or your whānau need help getting food, groceries or other household goods and services, please call freephone 0800 800 405. Our staff will collect information from you to provide the support you need throughout your self-isolation period.  Community based assessment centres (CBAC)  

These centres are being set up and operated by the DHB for your area. They are only for assessment and swabbing if you think you may have COVID-19. Healthline (0800 358 5453) will provide guidance on whether assessment and testing is needed.  

Public health and other information  

The official Ministry of Health website is still the main source of all up-to-date New Zealand COVID-19 health information and advice. Further information on the wider national response is available at 


For further information: 

Nigel Ward 

Public Information Manager 

North Waikato Combined Emergency Operations Centre 

021 273 4997