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Resilience Challenge funds $900,000 of research



18 May 2017

Resilience Challenge funds $900,000 of research to make New Zealand more resilient to natural disasters.

Resilience to Nature’s Challenges Kia manawaroa – Ngā Ākina o Te Ao Tūroa has announced funding of over $900,000 across two years for six research projects designed to make New Zealanders more resilient in the event of natural disasters. Announcement of further successful projects is expected in the next few weeks.

The Resilience Challenge, one of eleven National Science Challenges funded by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment over 10 years, is a consortium of around 120 researchers and students from six universities, three crown research institutes, and two private research organisations.

The Challenge represents a new partnership approach to responding to and recovering from natural hazards and risks in New Zealand.

Challenge Director Professor Shane Cronin says that the six funded projects will deepen our knowledge of resilience to natural hazard in New Zealand, and provide exciting fresh ideas, and new people, into the initiative, now in its second year of operation.

“It is thrilling that the six selected projects, assessed by an international team of experts in resilience science, represent a diverse range of approaches to resilience science embodying the Challenge’s co-creation philosophy,” Professor Cronin says.

All of the selected projects engage with end-users throughout the design and implementation phases of the research, and this includes citizen science and kaupapa Māori approaches.

The newly funded work includes guiding legal frameworks around planning for management of extreme natural hazard in towns and cities, models demonstrating economic motivation for regional infrastructure investments with inbuilt resilience components, hazard/risk science communication initiatives, understanding our diverse communities, and building more resilient lifelines networks, especially in our electricity distribution sector.


Below are summaries of the six projects.



Host OrganisationProject TtleAmount fundedSummary
Loïc Le Dé Auckland University of TechnologyParticipation and technology in citizen science for strengthening resilience to natural hazards (P-TECH in CITSCI)$115,363The project will assess the role and contribution of technology in fostering genuine participation and citizen science in strengthening resilience to natural hazards in New Zealand. Its contribution spans theory to practice. The project will pioneer three unique citizen science initiatives including participatory mapping using drones, video games and Lego modelling, using a Geographic Information System as integrative platform. It will also reflect upon the process through which citizen knowledge is produced and identify lessons for fostering citizen’s participation in science in order to strengthen resilience to natural hazards. This project shall advance the citizen science agenda in disaster risk reduction in New Zealand.
Emily GraceGNS ScienceRetreating from impending disaster – addressing existing land uses in hazard areas for managed retreat$300,000Many communities around New Zealand are located in the path of natural hazards that are increasing in impact such as sea level rise, coastal erosion and flooding. A planned and progressive retreat (termed managed retreat) from high risk areas is one option for managing these continued threats. This research will investigate a specific challenge to implementing managed retreat: the legal and social implications of changing existing land use in hazard areas. This applied research will combine legal and planning analysis to produce implementable strategies to improve local government capacity for managing retreat from high risk areas.

Lucy CarterMassey UniversityDeveloping and evaluating culturally appropriate tsunami risk reduction activities for kura kaupapa Māori$48,696 (1 year)This project aims to pilot a culturally appropriate educational outreach activity programme for primary school children enrolled at a kura kaupapa Māori. Research activities will be collaboratively designed, with mātauranga Māori as a focus, in order to increase awareness of regional hazards for Māori children in the Hawke’s Bay region. The researchers will work with educators, children and whānau at kura kaupapa Māori to build stronger whanaungatanga between Massey University, the East Coast LAB (Life at the Boundary), Māori and educational institutions to foster enhanced hazard resilience within the community. Lessons learned from the evaluation will help inform future disaster education initiatives for both Māori and total immersion or bilingual schools.

Morag AyersMarket Economics LtdCharacterising resilience to flow-on impacts of natural hazards in local economies within New Zealand$170,000Natural hazards can directly and indirectly impact infrastructure, businesses, and communities, which are interconnected in complex ways. Focusing on the 11 Territorial Authorities in the Waikato region, we ask: ‘How do these interconnections affect the resilience of local economies to natural hazards?’ This study will develop a transferable method for identifying resilience-enhancing characteristics of local economies and ‘hot spots’ (critical industry sectors and inter-regional links) that amplify the flow-on impacts from natural hazards through the economy. The results will provide a greater level of detail which is needed to support local government and communities in prioritising resilience-building strategies.
Jesse Hession GraymanUniversity of AucklandDisaster Preparedness and Resilience among Auckland’s Southeast Asian Communities$74,119 (1 year)This project aims at understanding how particular Southeast Asian communities (Cambodian, Indonesian, Malaysian, Philippine, Thai and Vietnamese) identify, conceptualise and prepare for risks of natural hazards in Auckland. This study will provide an opportunity for these communities to co-develop proactive response strategies together with professional organisations, such as Auckland Council and its Civil Defence and Emergency Management Unit, tasked with responding to disaster situations. The findings will inform best practices with these communities.

Nirmal NairUniversity of AucklandElectricity Distribution Resilience Framework informed by West Coast Alpine Fault Scenario$200,000- 235,000 (to be confimed)

This project will develop novel electricity resilience framework, distinct from existing reliability analysis along with realistic micro-grid restoration solution, enabled through communication lifelines, following a significant Alpine Fault earthquake impacting the West Coast of South Island to deliver limited electricity for 6-8 weeks using local energy resources. Through a co-creation project implementation with Westpower, one of NZ’s 29 distribution utility potentially impacted the most by the Alpine Fault, the overall goal is to disseminate project learnings, policies, guidelines, restoration methods and lifeline engagement models to all other NZ networks to help them better prepare for large scale future natural events impact.

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