||Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have often been poorly considered, planned and implemented across New Zealand's emergency management sector. GIS practitioners involved in emergency management events are often the ones who suffer the consequences of this. Recent significant events have reinforced both the need for a nation-wide coordinated, planned and pro-active approach to implementing GIS for emergency management, and the advantages that GIS can offer to the emergency management sector if implemented properly. This paper offers insights into the “grass roots” foundation of a community called New Zealand GIS for Emergency Management (NZGIS4EM) to address these issues. In its founding year (2017/2018) the priority for an interim NZGIS4EM committee has been to establish the foundation of the community, this is primarily administrative projects. Several other subject targeted projects are also underway or planned relating to data, standards, symbology, common operating picture and interoperability. Key challenges for NZGIS4EM relate to a shortage of funding, logistics of physical meetings, current lack of governance and a lack of legal mandate in New Zealand to enforce standards for emergency management. Attention in the sector is now moving towards the implementation of a Common Operating (or Operational) Picture (COP). Key messages that the author believes are pertinent include: that it's not all about the tools; plan big, but then prioritise and implement small; ensure the COP is used BAU; minimal or no training should be required; ensure it is quicker for frontline users; ensure there is a plan B and a plan C if the internet and/or power goes out; identify and lobby agencies who should be the authoritative source of truth for essential data; implement phases of response for information requirements; consider national and/or regional hosting of platforms, and; recognize that real-time crowd sourced data may be the future of intelligence and plan for that.