In local history accounts of the founding of settlements and the establishment of towns, cities and regions there is a tendency for the physical environment to retreat as an actor or active force over time. It is as if the establishment of a city must lead ultimately to some kind of plateau or stable state in terms of threats from natural hazards. Environmental risks remain but they are thought of, and planned for, in terms of hostile intrusions that must be fought with temporary or permanent defences and they become subsumed into narratives of overcoming hence the historic and on-going use of the phrase “civil defence.” Also, disaster planning tends to fare badly in the context of day-to-day planning. Few politicians and citizens want to know about events that may displace “normal” planning altogether since normal planning is time-consuming, expensive and contentious enough without further complications over what might happen. Because of these marginalising tendencies, planning practices, the preparation of key urban planning documents and by corollary planning histories tend to bury natural disasters and disaster management as quickly as possible. In this paper I argue that despite some significant policy advances since 2002 these tendencies still compromise disaster management responsiveness and community resilience. This is the case even after the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010-2011 and a raft of new legislative amendments.