Aotearoa is geologically and meteorologically active, with massive if infrequent ‘unsettlement’ carving the land as much as the ongoing and incremental human settlement. Earthquakes, tsunami, storms, landslides and flooding impact on our individual and collective lives (Cashman & Cronin, 2008; Goff & McFadgen, 2003; Pillans & Huber, 1995; Proctor, 2010) requiring acknowledgement in our environmental planning and development strategies. Many Hawkes Bay whānau will have stories of their 1931 earthquake, the largest disaster in the country until Canterbury’s ‘seismic event’, that instigated a world-leading building code (Megget, 2006). Others will have experienced more recent events such as the 1987 Edgecumbe earthquake in the Bay of Plenty, Cyclone Bola in 1998 that devastated extensive farming and forestry holdings including that held by Māori, or the Manawatu floods of 2004.
Responding and recovering from disasters such as these draws on societal and cultural skill sets that are comprised of tools and approaches that can be described, communicated, and improved upon. Now it is the residents of Ōtautahi/Christchurch who join the ranks of those with experience of disaster. The term resilience became a trope for Cantabrians’ coping with the most destructive disaster in Aotearoa/NZ’s since the 1930 Napier earthquake. The myth of Rūaumoko, the clinging ever-turning unborn child of Papa-tu-a-nuku, provides a cultural framework for Māori to appreciate a fundamental geophysical characteristic of our whenua. This wilful child will never be born, will never cease his turning, and must be accepted as a part of the extended whānau. Wira Gardner builds on this myth in a 1995 paper presented to a Wellington conference (Theme: ‘Rebuilding cities after disaster’) (Gardner, 1995), which he introduced with the words of a famous haka:
Ko Rūaumoko e ngunguru nei! Au, au, aue ha hei!
But our insights go beyond the mythical and the historical. This review gathers literature and other works related to the impacts of the 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquakes on Māori and critique the wider literature on Māori and Indigenous resilience. The aim is twofold. First, to provide a bibliographic resource for other researchers and mitigate the risks of under-resourced Māori researchers becoming isolated in what is, somewhat tragically, a burgeoning field with a number of contributions by workers not committed to the standard academic publishing route. Second, I hope to prompt a more encompassing approach to disaster risk reduction strategies in Aotearoa to improve the ability of Māori and other communities in their response(s) to, and recover(ies) from, future disasters.