Thursday, October 23, 2014

Indigenous Peoples as Citizen Scientists

I'm off to the inaugural Citizen Science Conference in San Jose, February 11-12 next year. I'll be delivering a 'speed talk' which entails 5 minutes to deliver the message, a great idea for conferences where it can be hard talk sitting through hour after hour of deliveries...

My 300 seconds will be on the role of Indigenous Peoples in this CitSci space. We hold important knowledge of their environments. This ancient knowledge is increasingly sought as data for a variety of scientific disciplines and practices including environmental management, ecology, ethnobotany, fisheries, forestry, and disaster risk reduction. Many Indigenous communities are not opposed to working with scientists and various international conventions have articulated a role for Indigenous knowledge, particularly traditional ecological knowledge. However, the history of much ‘collaboration’ has created significant barriers to progressing truly inclusive Citizen Science in many countries. I'll give a few brief examples from Aotearoa New Zealand will to show that empowering Indigenous individuals and collectives as 'Citizen Scientists' will require an acceptance of possibly radically different worldviews as well as the acknowledgement of broader issues of justice and ethics.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Housing in a Post-disaster landscape: Otautahi/Christchurch

A report just published by Te Puawaitanga ki Otautahi reveals how bad the situation is in the city after the earthquakes. Their survey found that housing has 'declined dramatically' with the standard of most housing deteriorating and the high costs of private rental meaning many whanau have to share their home with extended family, sometimes having to relocate outside of the city.
A key challenge is finding warm dry affordable housing.
As a result of poor housing, health risks have increased, particularly skin infections and respiratory problems, anxiety and stress.
Babies are at higher risk to SIDS.
Given some of the raised eyebrows I get when I keep presenting and publishing how bad the post-disaster city is for many Maori, it is getting (quoting Alice in Wonderland) curiouser and curiouser how little attention this gets by Maori and non-Maori authorities.
It is also difficult to see this situation improving anytime soon. Think back to when the Minister of Earthquake Recovery assured us the 'the market' would provide solutions.
He's dead right of course, and this is what the market solution looks like.
Full report available here

Sunday, September 21, 2014

2014 Election: the ongoing disengagement of the electorate

I haven't posted anything on the politics of Aotearoa NZ in the lead up to this election - there are more informed Maori researchers than myself who are posting on this - but the following graphic paints a stark picture of disengagement.

The seemingly endless revelations of sleeze, corruption and bullying may contribute to this malaise but I have a sneaking suspicion young people were disengaging way before the scandals.

It's become a trait of my generation (born in '65, tailend of the baby boomers) to bemoan 'young people today...'

Well, they're our kids, our nephews and nieces, our employees and our students. Did we expect them to follow in our footsteps as civic-minded citizenry?! Other than voting and paying our taxes, what did my generation do for the country?

I think we've all become complacent. We took our clean-ness and green-ness for granted and now face massive costs to retain what's left of the environment. Education is increasingly costly and uneven in its quality. Kids are eating shit food, racism and sexism are ingrained, the mainstream media is peddling trivia and its just getting harder and harder to believe in government and the corporate sector even like us.

Hard rain's gonna fall...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Vision Matauranga project: Pan-iwi disaster risk reduction...

Pleased to announce we have been successful in this years Vision Matauranga round:

              Maori Disaster and Emergency Management
Taking Maori from the edge of disasters to the centre of influence.

We know Maori institutions and cultural practices played an integral part in the disaster response to the Christchurch earthquakes of 2010-12. This response from Maori was spontaneously extended to include non-Maori support through well-established but dynamic and evolving Maori cultural networks. Local Maori insights (both Ngāi Tahu and Ngā Maata Waka/Taura Here) were particularly valuable in supporting the vulnerable city residents including the elderly and mental health clients. Maori, both individually and collectively, operated alongside first responder organisations such as the Fire Service and Police, government and NGO officials, iwi authorities, international emergency workers, churches and volunteers. 

This project aims to improve engagement between Maori and mainstream disaster and emergency organisations to enable Maori to engage as Citizen Scientists and in turn enable more efficient responses to future disasters, whether that be in the rescue of survivors, the provision of emergency supplies, medical care, emergency repairs and ongoing pastoral support.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Indigenous Peoples and urban disaster: Māori responses to the 2010-12 Christchurch earthquakes

We've just published another article from our research into how Maori were impacted by the earthquakes in Christchurch over the past 3 years. In this article I argue that although Indigenous Peoples retain traditional coping strategies for disasters despite their frequent marginalisation, Indigenous communities are increasingly urban and away from their traditional territories. I go on to describe the impacts on and response of Māori to the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2012 through analyses of available statistical data and reports, and interviews done six months and then 14-16 months after the most damaging event, noting that a significant difference between Māori and ‘mainstream’ New Zealand is the greater mobility enacted by Māori throughout this period. I reiterate that Maori organisations deployed resources beyond their traditional catchments throughout the disaster, including important support for non-Māori. Relationships between local and non-local Indigenous individuals and collectives may be problematic in general development contexts and the post-disaster landscape in particular. This emphasises the need for informed engagement with Indigenous communities which would enable more efficient disaster responses in many countries.

A PDF of the article can be download here

Simon Lambert

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