Friday, July 01, 2011

Ru Whenua Research: Lincoln Uni funds investigation into Maori networks of resilience through the earthquakes

The scale of damage from the recent and ongoing earthquakes centred in and around Ōtautahi has challenged all networks in the city at a time when many individuals and communities were already under severe economic pressure. In such times, Māori have historically drawn on traditional institutions such as whānau, marae, hapū, and iwi for support. 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.

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. Lincoln has funded a small project that investigates the role of Maori-centric networks in supporting Maori and non-Maori in the aftermath of the recent and ongoing earthquakes. Three disciplines provide the intellectual foundations of ascertaining Maori cultural and economic resilience: geography (Dr. Lambert) and community development (Melanie Shadbolt); and two dimensions of environmental hazards: geological (Dr. Black) and eco-toxicological (Dr. Ataria). University ethics approval is currently in process. 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).

Photo by Mark Lincoln

We're also hoping to collaborate with the University of Canterbury in a bigger project, currently being drafted and consulted on.

More maps, this time showing the G-forces.

Check out the flow of Tweets immediately following the Japanese earthquake.

Some important points from Grant Jacobs on the Sciblogs. It seems that modern buildings on good foundations, constructed according to the building code in force now, protected lives even though shaken to a greater extent than the code design level.

However, better designed foundations than those used at present are needed to counteract the effect of liquefaction, especially for houses.

Interestingly, non-symmetrical buildings can behave poorly if careful design is not conducted. As for the landscape, potential rock falls on hillside areas overlooking towns and suburbs have to be recognised, and appropriately considered.

Importantly, there are some low cost methods of improving earthquake safety.
  1. Secure heavy items, such as header tanks, and tie back water cylinders.
  2. Brace, strengthen or remove brick or other unreinforced masonry chimneys.
  3. Strengthening may be achieved with a galvanised steel tube grouted into the chimney flue.
  4. Where the chimney is to be removed, demolish completely if located externally, and down to ceiling level if internal. Replace chimneys with code-compliant steel flue.
  5. When building, use “earthquake friendly” materials like piled or waffle-slab foundations, timber (or light steel frame) walls and lightweight roofs.
  6. Remove heavy roofs like concrete tiles and replace them with lightweight materials such as steel.
  7. For remedial works on houses, see the Department of Building and Housing advice.

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