Sunday, July 31, 2011

Māori Resilience through the Otautahi 'quakes: the role and future prospects of economic, cultural and environmental networks

Lincoln University's research in the effects of the recent (and perhaps ongoing) earthquakes in Otautahi/ Christchurch is funded and underway!

The scale of damage from the recent earthquakes in Ōtautahi challenges all networks in the city at a time when many individuals and communities are under severe economic pressure. Māori have historically drawn on traditional institutions such as whānau, marae, hapū, and iwi for resilience. What has worked and what has failed are fundamental questions as other communities (Māori and non-Māori) will likely suffer similarly disastrous events in the future.

To describe the role of Maori-centric networks in supporting Maori and non-Maori in the aftermath of the recent and ongoing earthquakes.

The researchers
A flood of research will undoubtedly follow the earthquakes, most of which will undoubtedly relate to engineering, geology, and seismology. Lincoln University has a unique confluence of research allied to two of Lincoln's three Kaupapa Māori Units (Te Whanake in Environment, Society, & Design; Te Matapuna in Agriculture & Life Sciences) that enables a trans-disciplinary approach incorporating economic geography, community development, geology and eco-toxicology. Four individual Maori researchers are engaged in some way on the project. They are:

• Dr. Simon Lambert (Tūhoe, Ngāti Ruapani), economic geography, planning and development.
• Melanie Shadbolt (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Raukawa) community development, sociology.
• Dr. Jamie Ataria (Rongomaiwahine), eco-toxicology.
• Dr. Amanda Black (Tūhoe), geology.

The approach
A broad approach is needed to account for how people have been affected by the earthquakes, and how and why they respond as they do. The project will draw on the team's respective skills to gather and interpret both qualitative data (narrating the personal, professional, and institutional experiences of key actors in responding to the earthquakes) and quantitative data (describing the geo/eco contexts of affected Māori communities). Three disciplines provide the intellectual foundations of this project: economic geography (Dr. Lambert) and community development (Melanie Shadbolt); and two dimensions of environmental hazards: geological (Dr. Black) and eco-toxicological (Dr. Ataria).

More explicitly, we will:
1. Investigate the economic and cultural resilience of Maori communities;
2. Review disaster response and recovery information disseminated to Māori, including those from local authorities, government, emergency services, the police and army;
3. Review scientific reports on the geological and eco-toxicological dimensions of how the earthquakes affected Māori communities.

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