Ahi Kā Roa, Ahi Kā Ora Ōtautahi: Māori, Recovery Trajectories and Resilience in Canterbury, New Zealand

  • Christine KenneyEmail author


On 4 September 2010 an earthquake measuring 7.1 Ms occurred in Christchurch, New Zealand, heralding a series of earthquakes, which caused widespread devastation, injury to over 9000 inhabitants and the loss of 185 lives. Eastern Christchurch, the region most impacted by the earthquakes, primarily comprised communities with limited socio-economic resources. The Māori community (25,725 individuals), which constituted 7.3 per cent of the urban population at the time, was concentrated in the heavily impacted Eastern suburbs. Despite reduced resources, local Māori instigated the creation of a nationalised Māori Earthquake Recovery Network, which upon activation provided economic, social, psychological, material and health services support to approximately 20,000 affected households in the aftermath of the earthquakes. Subsequent to the network’s dissolution, culturally framed initiatives, including matched savings schemes, tertiary education partnerships, trades training and social housing initiatives, were implemented by the resident Māori tribe (Ngāi Tahu). The initiatives were shaped to address upstream drivers of disaster risk and enhance Māori community resilience. In accordance with Ngāi Tahu’s statutory role noted in the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act (2011), restoration projects were also instituted in collaboration with government and local authorities to facilitate regional sustainability. In both contexts, Māori attributes (values, knowledge and practices) were operationalised as cultural technologies to foster recovery and may therefore be conceptualised as unfinalised actor networks. The progressive impacts of such networks have included an increased Māori demographic in Christchurch (41,910 individuals in the 2013 Census), enhanced education and employment choices for Māori, facilitation of the urban rebuild, as well as the economic, psychosocial and environmental restoration of the wider Canterbury region. More recently, Māori approaches to disaster recovery have shaped the collaborative response to the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Indigenous Disaster Management Programme, Joint Centre for Disaster ResearchGNS Science/Massey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

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