Bruce Pepperell - who officially took up duty just on Monday 2 July - says it appears the region got off lightly thanks to the fact the magnitude-7 quake was 230km below the earth's surface.
"We have received the odd report of items falling off shelves - and we'd possibly expect more reports of minor damage during the day - but generally the depth of the quake has been to our great benefit.
"But it was a big quake by any standards - and enough to remind not only people in the Wellington region but all over the country that that one day - or night - sooner or later we will all have to deal with a full-scale emergency."
Mr Pepperell says people should think and plan about how they will deal with a big quake or other emergency.
He urges people to go to the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management website - www.getthru.govt.nz - for all the necessary information on how to be prepared.
"If last night's quake had been closer to the surface then we would have probably been looking at a serious situation this morning. The quake was a useful reminder for people to be fully prepared with a well-stocked emergency kit.
"Perhaps people in the region could take some time this weekend to make sure they have torches in working order - and a sufficient stock of fresh batteries. Preferably they should know where the torch is - how about in the bedside cabinet?
"They can also check whether they have emergency stocks of water, food and the other necessities of life."
Mr Pepperell says this is also a good time for people to go to www.shakeout.govt.nz and register for New Zealand ShakeOut - our first nationwide earthquake drill - on Wednesday 26 September.
New Zealand ShakeOut website
About the New Organisation
WREMO - the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office - signals a fundamental step forward in the way emergency services organise and share resources around the region.
The new organisation will operate principally from the earthquake-resistant former Wellington Emergency Management Office (WEMO) building in Turnbull Street, Thorndon, and the Hutt City Council's emergency offices. The Porirua, Kapiti and Wairarapa offices will continue to operate as satellite offices of WREMO.
The new organisation stems from a 2010 assessment of the region's disaster-response capability, conducted by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management.
The new organisation, attached to Greater Wellington Regional Council, is headed by Bruce Pepperell, an ex-senior Navy officer. Mr Pepperell reports to the Chair of the Wellington Region Coordinating Executive Group, consisting of the chief executives of the region's nine councils and representatives from the Fire Service, Police and Capital & Coast District Health Board.
Their work is ultimately overseen by the region's Civil Defence and Emergency Management (CDEM) Group Joint Committee chaired by Kāpiti Coast Mayor Jenny Rowan.