An American expert in post-disaster recovery says community groups can play a key role in helping build resilience to cope with natural disasters.
Laurie Johnson, who was one of the lead authors of the recovery plan for New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, has been working with the Christchurch City Council.
She says in both Christchurch and New Orleans, community groups took on important roles after the disaster to help get the cities functioning again.
Ms Johnson says the groups also find planning for disaster preparedness can help build a sense of community.
She says in New Orleans, many of the community group leaders have gone on to play important roles in local government.
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says she'd like to see the civil defence model restructured to make more use of community groups.
Ms Dalziel says she thinks the current civil defence system works at the top level, but not at the community level.
She says it may be better to restructure the model so it makes use of existing community groups and builds networks between them.
Ms Dalziel says people seems to be excited at the prospect of developing resilience plans that work for their community.