Disaster preparedness in Auckland

02 June 2017
Mt Eden looking out to Rangitoto

Dr Jesse Hession Grayman and Professor Andreas Neef have been awarded funding from the Resilience Challenge to study disaster preparedness and resilience among Auckland's Southeast Asian communities.

Auckland Council estimates that only 11% of Aucklanders are fully prepared for a disaster event, the lowest level among all New Zealand cities.

Jesse and Andreas will spend a year working alongside postgraduate students in Development Studies to understand how Cambodian, Indonesian, Malaysian, Philippine, Thai and Vietnamese communities identify, conceptualise and prepare for risks of natural hazards in Auckland.

Like New Zealand, much of Southeast Asia is tectonically active and prone to natural hazards such as floods, droughts and cyclones.

Southeast Asian communities in Auckland harbour a wealth of direct or indirect experience of living through natural disasters in their home countries.

Jesse and Andreas explain that "the study will provide an opportunity for these Southeast Asian 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 project will identify the adaptive capacities and vulnerabilities of these specific communities, assess how their previous disaster experience and response strategies can be harnessed, and build on existing research on the use of digital technologies and social media to inform potential disaster risk reduction strategies.

"The research will proactively inform best practice with culturally and linguistically diverse populations in disaster contexts."

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.

Find out more about Development Studies