Q&A with Akuhata Bailey-Winiata

Mapping coastal marae and urupā

April 2021


Akuhata onboard the waka houora Te Mātau a Māui in Napier, 2021

Tēnā koe Akuhata. Can you tell us about your iwi affiliations?

Yes, my iwi affiliations are Ngāti Whakaue, Tūhourangi, Ngāti Tutetawha, and Nāti Tawhaki.

What motivated you to pursue your current research on climate threats to coastal marae and urupā?

At the end of 2019 I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Earth Science with a minor in Geography at the University of Waikato. Then I started a summer scholarship at our Tauranga campus funded through the Resilience Challenge and supervised by Prof Karin Bryan, Dr Shari Gallop and Dr Scott Stephens (NIWA). We used GIS (geographic information system) to map the proximity of marae to the coast and rivers and started looking at their elevation, distance to the coast and slope. I realised the impact that this research could have for my people and my country. From there I was hooked, and I got the opportunity to start my masters which has brought me to where I am now.

Could you briefly summarise the objectives of your research?

The overall objective is to understand the exposure of coastal marae and urupā to a rise in sea level. We will achieve this by first understanding the characteristics of these coastal marae and urupā such as elevation and distance to the coast. As well as using NIWA coastal flood maps to categorise which coastal marae or urupā may be inundated at increments of sea level rise. Following this, we focus on classifying the coastal geomorphology of these coastal marae and urupā which will be critical to understand how the coast will respond to a rise in sea level. Lastly we want to start exploring what is the way forward and what is next to address this issue in the best way for Māori.

What have you found so far?

191 marae around Aotearoa New Zealand are within 1 km of the coast and 41 Bay of Plenty urupā are known to be within 1 km of the coast. Of these 191 coastal marae, 30% are situated below 10 m above sea level. Of the 41 coastal urupā we looked at, 40% are situated below 10 m above mean sea level. We have also conducted a geomorphic analysis of coastal marae and urupā because different types of coasts will have very different responses and management requirements. We found that the most common type of coast around marae is shallow drowned valleys (such as Tauranga harbour) with 38% of coastal marae having this geomorphology. Followed by coastal embayments (such as hot water beach) with 21% of coastal marae having this geomorphology.


Field sampling in the little Waihī estuary

What aspects of your research have been most challenging?

The most challenging aspect of this research is engagement. This is because marae and urupā are such important historical and cultural sites to Māori and anything that threatens their safety is an emotive issue.

What do you hope will come out of your research that will have real world impact for iwi and hapū?

The outputs from this research will be the first baseline investigation which seeks to understand the exposure of coastal marae and urupā to a rise in sea level. I hope that this data can be used in the future by coastal marae, hapū and iwi to make informed and relevant decisions to help protect and preserve these sites of significance for future generations.

What specific mitigation strategies can you foresee that will help safeguard affected marae and urupā?

This is the hardest question that I am faced with when talking with coastal communities, so what? What do we do? And when do we do it? Potential solutions to safeguard marae and urupā from coastal flooding and erosion can be complex and expensive, and dependent on the coastal environment of these coastal marae and urupā. Hence creating a solution is going to need to incorporate these factors and more.


Atop a cliff looking down at a shoreplatform at Rēkohu (Chatham Islands), 2019

What are your future research aspirations?

I am planning to continue my research with a PhD, looking at the potential solutions for coastal marae, urupā and communities to combat sea level rise and potentially how to provide relevant and digestible information to make it easier to make informed, collective decisions to protect and preserve coastal marae and urupā.



Student Profile: Ben Jones

Investigating coastal archaeological vulnerability in Aotearoa


April 2021


Tēna koutou katoa

Ko Crocodile te awa

E hono ana ahau ki Royal Oak Tāmaki Makaurau

Ko Ben Jones tōku ingoa

He Kairangahau ahau ki te Whare Wānanga o Tāmaki Makaurau

He mihi nui, he mihi aroha!


I was born in South Africa in a small rural community. At the age of 15 I came to Aotearoa and made Auckland home. As an immigrant you attempt to learn everything you can, every bit of slang, idiosyncrasy and the finer points of ‘yeah nah, nah yeah’.

I formed a connection with Aotearoa through its history. Undertaking my undergraduate and Masters research at the University of Auckland enabled me to dig deeper into Aotearoa’s past. Stumbling into archaeology unpacked the scope and complexity of the human past, especially the coastal heritage of Pacific Islands. For my Masters I investigated how rice agriculturists impacted an intensive pre-contact agricultural system in Hawai’i. I was hired as a GIS technician job based on the techniques I developed using applications of GIS and LiDAR during my Masters. My role in the project was to digitise and service online all the maps produced by the Crown. (over 20,000 maps, 5000 of them geo-referenced). Cataloguing the cartographic history of Aotearoa yielded a knowledge base useful for my PhD research and wider public use.

For the past 5 and a half years I have been working as a professional archaeologist in Aotearoa and in Australia. The takeaway from this role for me was the engagement with iwi and hapū who have an ancestral connection to the archaeology I have investigated. The best encapsulation of this is the proverb ‘Kia whakatōmuri te haere whakamua: ‘I walk backwards into the future with my eyes fixed on my past’. Iwi, hapū and local communities are faced with potentially losing these places due to sea level rise driven by climate change.


My project

My PhD project stems from the Coastal research programme within the Resilience to Nature’s Challenges (RNC) National Science Challenge | Kia manawaroa – Ngā Ākina o Te Ao Tūroa. Thanks to my great supervisory team Mark Dickson, Emma Ryan, Murray Ford and Dan Hikuroa. The overall aim of the RNC Coastal programme is to resolve physical coastal hazard questions faced by communities around Aotearoa. Incremental sea-level rise (SLR) and changing wave patterns will fundamentally reshape our coastlines and re-define Aotearoa’s future coastal hazards. One of the coastal assets at risk is cultural heritage, particularly archaeological sites related to Māori occupation. Many of these sites are located close to coastlines and are vulnerable to coastal hazards exacerbated by SLR. Factors of particular significance include large tidal ranges and storm surges especially in shallow harbours, river mouths and estuaries. Coastal erosion is a key threat to the preservation of archaeological sites, either exposing sites to future destruction and/or destroying exposed sites. 37.3% of archaeological sites recorded are within 500m of the coast. Further research to investigate the vulnerability of coastal archaeological sites is needed, in order to understand what that percentage means at different national, regional and local geographic scales. Understanding the impact and the scale of the problem is important, both from a scientific and cultural perspective, because these sites hold evidence of Aotearoa’s tangible and intangible history.


Figure 1: What coastal archaeology in Aotearoa is at risk?

Figure 2: LiDAR of Ngunguru sourced from Northland Regional Council. The barrier contains numerous significant archaeological sites related to Māori settlement.

My PhD focuses on understanding coastal change at selected sites within Aotearoa over the past 1000 years and considering how future SLR will impact coastal archaeological sites. An interdisciplinary study where a three-pronged approach will adopt techniques from the disciplines of Mātauranga Māori, archaeology, and geomorphology. Successfully achieving this provides a range of exciting prospects. For example, what the distribution of archaeology means for understanding coastal change, what archaeology is at risk from SLR and how pūrakau (myths) link to the broader understanding of coastal change. The challenge, then, is to meaningfully design a research programme that incorporates the methods of Mātauranga Māori, archaeology and coastal geomorphology.


Next steps

I hope my research will have two impacts. The first is nuanced and sensitive collaboration with the iwi and hapū related to my case study area Ngunguru, in Northland. I have started engagement with Te Waiariki and aim to refine the research by examining and re-examining the research with their input from the start.

My second aim is to increase awareness of the threat posed to archaeological sites and that it will inform effective adaptive climate change policy. I have been invited to and actively involved in a working group with the mission task to provide a national level of guidance and advocacy to address the effects of climate change facing Aotearoa’s cultural heritage. Hopefully, by engaging with policy makers and government officials during the early stages of my PhD it will enable effective communication of the threats posed to archaeological sites.


Improving volcanic ballistic projectile hazard assessments using UAVs and a pneumatic cannon


By Dr Rebecca Fitzgerald

April 2021


Volcanic ballistic projectiles (VBPs) are fragments of solid rock or molten lava ejected out of a volcano in explosive eruptions. They are one of the most common causes of deaths and injuries on volcanoes, as they can travel up to hundreds of metres a second, range up to tens of metres in diameter and land with very high temperatures (up to 1000°C). VBPs can also cause substantial damage and destruction of property and infrastructure. Despite this, VBP hazard, impact and risk research has trailed behind other volcanic hazards.

This means that hazard and risk managers are missing out on crucial information that would help them calculate risk to people on volcanoes.

We understand how VBPs travel, how far they travel, and their size, but little is understood of 1) how they are distributed within a ballistic field (are there more impacting in certain areas than other areas?); 2) the intensity of VBP hazard within the field (are there a lot impacting a small area, making it hard to escape being hit, or are there only a few impacting a large area?); and 3) how their distribution around the volcano changes over time (will they always impact the same area? Will a similar number be ejected in each eruption?). These questions affect the decisions hazard and risk managers make to keep people safe.

In addition, we know that an impact by a VBP can cause injury or death, yet this is not the only aspect that may cause injury. Impact ejecta are often produced when a VBP impacts the ground, either from interaction with debris (i.e. gravel, scoria) on the surface or from the VBP shattering. The ejecta can also increase the size of the area of hazard around a VBP and may have the ability to injure (Figure 1).


Figure 1: VBP hazard footprint size is influenced by many factors. In this example we can see how impact ejecta is produced from a less dense VBP impacting a hard surface, increasing the hazard footprint (in birds eye view on the right) compared to a denser VBP impacting the same surface and not fragmenting on impact (P= person, B= volcanic ballistic projectile, EA= ejecta apron).

It is critical for hazard and risk managers to know the potential size of the hazard footprint that a person could be affected by and the number of VBP that may be experienced in an area to calculate risk effectively. This became the topic of my PhD thesis at the University of Canterbury.

To investigate how the number and density of VBP impacts change over a VBP field, we used a drone to take images of the area and map the location of VBPs at Yasur Volcano, Vanuatu.


Figure 2: A map of Yasur volcano with craters outlined and locations of the trails, viewing locations and the car park. Either side of the map are two examples of 20 x 20 m squares used to map VBPs in different distances and directions on the volcano. A and C show the drone images pre mapping and B and D show the same images with all the VBP mapped in red dots. We can observe less VBPs in C/D at 500 m from the vent than at 300m from the vent in A/B.

Mapping revealed that the spatial density of VBPs, or number of VBPs in an area, varied across short distances, and decreased with distance from the crater (Figure 2). More VBPs were also observed on the south and south-east of the volcano than in other directions, indicating that eruptions were being preferentially directed in that direction.

The mapping results and video footage of eruptions taken while we conducted fieldwork suggests that eruption directionality changes over time, highlighting how dynamic the hazard is and the need for potential changes in eruption directionality to be considered in risk management decisions.


Figure 3: Pneumatic cannon at UC. A) Set-up. B) Frames from a video filmed at 1000fps of an experiment using a basalt block fired at 60m/s impacting basalt boulders and producing impact ejecta.

Pneumatic (compressed air) cannon experiments were used to investigate how impact ejecta can affect the hazard footprint from a single VBP (Figure 3). The amount of energy they travel with and how far they travel may change depending on the hardness of the surface the VBP impacts, the hardness of the VBP itself and how fast the VBP was travelling on impact with the ground. Therefore our testing included these factors. Findings showed that ejecta have the potential to cause injury or death but that this varied with the factors tested. This indicates a need to incorporate impact ejecta into hazard footprints as well as the VBP itself when calculating hazard intensity, vulnerability and risk to people from VBPs on volcanoes

Improving our current understanding of how VBPs are distributed in space and time, and how hazard intensity varies over the hazard footprint will vastly improve our ability to assess and manage VBP hazard and risk.


How iwi and hapū management plans can enhance the planning process

By Gavin McCleave, science communications intern

Research by Dr Wendy Saunders and Lucy Kaiser explores how iwi and hapū in the Bay of Plenty prepare and use iwi and hapū management plans (IHMPs), and how well councils and third parties use the IHMPs during planning processes. Their research looked at the extent to which natural hazards and climate change are considered during IHMP preparation. They provide recommendations on how to ensure IHMPs are accurately representative of iwi and hapū members views, how iwi and hapū relationships with councils can be enhanced by IHMPs, and how IHMPs can be used when making planning decisions.

IHMPs are a readily accessible way for council decision-makers, planners and staff to learn the planning priorities and aspirations of local iwi and hapū.

The research found that iwi and hapū highly valued their IHMPs as a description of development priorities and objectives that their members have agreed. The agreed mātauranga embedded in IHMPs helps steer decision making by iwi and hapū leadership and members. Iwi and hapū also see IHMPs as an essential tool to influence and engage with local government decision making.

While some of the councils contacted by the researchers are very proactive in using IHMPs, for others, the usage or perceived value of IHMPs could be increased. The researchers identify ways that councils can help ensure that their decision-makers and staff consult IHMPs before making planning decisions or advising the public on development consents. The researchers also provide recommendations on how councils can help iwi and hapū develop robust, representative IHMPs by, for example, providing funding support or technical expertise and sharing all their available information on relevant natural hazards and climate change issues.

As a result of these recommendations, researchers, planners, and many central government agencies are more aware of IHMPs, and the important role they play. This has been reflected in the inclusion of them in the many new strategies and policies, such as Arotakenga Huringa Āhuarangi – A Framework for the National Climate Change Risk Assessment for Aotearoa New Zealand.




The growing wildfire risk at the urban margins


By Gavin McCleave, science communications intern



Fires on the margins of urban areas in Aotearoa New Zealand have been relatively rare in the past but are becoming more common. Climate change is making the country hotter and drier, and land usage at the rural-urban interface (RUI) is rapidly changing as subdivisions are creating more than 5,000 new semi-rural sections every year. This is increasing the number of people and homes in the RUI, increasing the risk of wildfires starting, and increasing the risk of fires spreading into suburban areas.

This was demonstrated by the Port Hills wildfire in Christchurch in 2017. As described in 2018 research by Scion’s Lisa Langer and Simon Wegner, the nine destroyed homes were lifestyle properties, but the majority of the 450 homes threatened by the wildfire were within the urban fringe and city limits.

Fire mitigation for rural properties is well understood by local government and fire agencies and this knowledge has been passed to rural property owners and communities, but greater focus is now required on communities in the RUI.

The RNC Weather and Wildfire research programme is using new weather modelling technologies and methods to quantify the effects of a hypothetical wildfire breaking out in a subdivision on Mount Iron, near Wānaka.


Mt Iron subdivision at Wānaka. Credit: Phyllis, Flickr

The Mount Iron community was chosen because it is a suburban development in progress, and, being in Otago, is at high risk of wildfire as it has highly combustible fuels like mānuka, limited road access and water resources, periodic strong north-westerly winds, and increasingly dry summers. Mount Iron has already been struck by a wildfire, in January 2012.

Effective mitigation strategies to reduce the risk of physical damage to properties include actions by local government planners such as making building consents contingent on using fire-resistant building materials, and minimum site-spacing between buildings and flammable vegetation.

But the social aspects are just as important; for example ensuring affected communities know about the risk of wildfires occurring, how to reduce the likelihood and impact of wildfires, and what to do to save their lives and protect their properties in the event of a wildfire.

Research in 2019 co-authored by Lisa Langer describes wildfire experiences and actions by predominantly Māori residents during the 2011 Karikari Peninsula wildfire, and preparedness before and after the event. Researchers found that experiencing the fire encouraged most residents to become better prepared. Whānau and marae also helped to inform and support residents during and after the wildfire.

The paper provides useful recommendations for improving preparedness for wildfires and encouraging safe fire use in rural communities across New Zealand. The success of this study led to Scion social and kairangahau Māori researchers conducting a study with a hapū in the Hokianga to explore what a resilient hapū would look like and to contribute towards planning with Māori communities to reduce natural hazard risk. The Karikari study also helped shape other Scion-led social fire research on targeted protection against extreme fire. The combined research has helped inform Fire & Emergency New Zealand’s Māori engagement policy and contributed to their work with tangata whenua to build resilience of Māori communities.


Managed retreat – by whom and how?


By Gavin McCleave, science communications intern

Many communities around Aotearoa New Zealand are faced with increasing risks from storm surges, flooding, rising sea levels, and the prospect of being forced to leave behind their homes, land and community. In recognition of this, the Government recently announced a new Climate Change Adaptation Act will form part of the planned legislative framework replacing the Resource Management Act (RMA).

While managed retreat is possible under the RMA, there is limited national guidance on how and when to implement it, and who pays. It is all too easy for the necessary decisions to be delayed. At Matatā, where the Whakatane District Council went through a lengthy and contentious process to manage retreat from the Awatairariki fanhead following a devastating debris flow in 2005, the uncertain governance framework created cascading social, political, institutional and financial uncertainties, and contributed to protracted post-disaster trauma for the community. [1]

Timely new research from Dr Christina Hanna, Iain White and Bruce Glavovic describes the spectrum of governance approaches to managed retreat, and recommends an approach most likely to reduce risk and promote justice.

At one end of the spectrum is state-led and funded retreat from affected areas. This approach increases the risk of local communities being disempowered and embittered by regulated and enforced solutions. At the other end of the spectrum is an autonomous unmanaged retreat left to the private sector and local communities. This approach raises the risks of vulnerable communities being unfairly treated, and cultural heritage and connection being lost forever.


The aftermath of the 2005 debris flow at Matatā. Credit: Whakatane Beacon

The researchers found that although there will be instances in which state-led or autonomous retreats are appropriate, the most likely path to a satisfactory outcome for all involved, particularly the local communities, is somewhere in the middle. This is a network-based co-operative approach in which decision-making power is shared amongst central government, local government, the private sector and importantly, the local communities, to achieve a negotiated outcome. 

The researchers recommend co-operative managed retreat strategies in which “people and communities are embedded in the retreat strategy design, decision-making and delivery.”

A pioneering example of such an approach is the Clifton to Tangoio Coastal Hazards Strategy 2120, which trialled the Dynamic Adaptive Pathways Planning (DAPP) approach and involved researchers from Phase 1 of the the Resilience Challenge. This plan to manage Hawke’s Bay’s coastal hazards and climate change risks over the next 100 years was developed by local authorities, local stakeholders and mana whenua representatives.

Possible ways of supporting the affected landowners and communities in a co-operative managed retreat include opt-in buy-outs, relocation subsidies and land-swaps. The researchers acknowledge that a significant challenge for a co-operative approach is the question of who will pay for it. From their article: “Ideally, any co-operative programme will have a nationally consistent framework of cost allocation principles, clarity of cost-sharing responsibilities, and funding support at the local level.”

The researchers conclude that a co-operative approach to managing retreats is the most likely way to “avoid or reduce risks in ways that seek to share power, and promote justice and equity.” 


The full paper, “Managed retreats by whom and how? Identifying and delineating governance modalities” was recently published in Climate Risk Management and can be found here.


[1] Hanna, C.; White, I.; Glavovic, B. The Uncertainty Contagion: Revealing the Interrelated, Cascading Uncertainties of Managed Retreat. Sustainability 2020, 12, 736. 





A legacy for Christchurch:

Ten years since February 22 earthquake


By Richard Smith, Resilience Challenge Director

The ten-year anniversary of the February 22nd Christchurch earthquake will be stirring memories for many in Canterbury, and those affected around the country. We acknowledge those who suffered loss on that day, and the communities of the Canterbury region still dealing with damage, disruption, and change. For Aotearoa New Zealand’s emergency managers, the anniversary marks the start ten years ago of a decade full of national emergencies, involving large earthquakes affecting two of our biggest cities, floods, windstorms, tsunami warnings, landslides, and a global pandemic. After 80 preceding years of relative quiet, millions of New Zealanders now understand what it’s like to experience severe earthquake shaking, have learned more than they wanted to know about aftershocks and building engineering, and the realities of the long hard slog of post-earthquake urban disaster recovery.

I recall the disbelief when the first images came through of the smouldering collapsed buildings in Christchurch. It didn’t tally with the logic of us having already had the ‘big one’ on 4 September 2010, which we’d come through relatively unscathed. In that regard the February 22nd earthquake changed perceptions and showed that location matters when it comes to types of damage, and that not all earthquakes are the same. The February 2011 earthquake and the series of big shakes in June and December that year were particularly unsettling because of how close to the city they were and the sudden violence unleashed by the punch from the ground directly below. This created a hypervigilance, the need to be constantly ready to brace or dive for cover at any sound or sense of impending movement. The result was a thoroughly exhausted population, with each aftershock setting back recovery for people and communities.


Messages of hope outside the Carlton Hotel, Christchurch. Credit: Margaret Low, GNS Science

The event also revealed many positive things. The responsiveness of our emergency systems, and the ability of critical infrastructure like electricity and mobile networks to remain in service or be restored quickly to support communities. It showed the important role of social connectedness for the emergence of successful community-led responses. Also, that science and engineering were essential for understanding and solving technical challenges, and the value of public institutions in providing certainty. While a less widely held view, it also showed the worth of our public disaster insurance scheme for enabling the finance needed for rebuilding.

What should the legacy be for the lives lost and changed by the February 22 earthquake? From a resilience perspective we would hope that it is not to rely so much on our responsive emergency services and recovery. The decade of disruption in Christchurch proves the value of reducing disaster risk before an event rather than managing and muddling through the myriad consequences afterwards. Earthquakes are inevitable in New Zealand, but earthquake disasters are not. We should be aiming to invest in measures that ensure buildings and infrastructure are stronger, not just to prevent loss of life, but to enable them to function as soon as possible after the ground has stopped shaking. 

We have much of the technical knowledge of how to build and where to build it to make our homes and communities more resilient. We also know that the cost of enhanced resilience is a fraction of the economic and social costs of a decade of demolition and rebuilding. The challenge is applying that knowledge and lifting our collective sights on the mission of disaster resilience. Let’s make that the legacy for Christchurch.













Student profile: Ngawaiata Turnbull


Maungapōhatu – A history of resilience, Rua Kēnana and Iharaira



Photo – Ngawaiata Turnbull, First Class Honours & Te Reo Maori Thesis Scholarship Award. Master of Indigenous Studies, Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi Special Awards Ceremony, Mātaatua Marae, Te Mānuka Tūtahi. Whakatane, 2015.

Ka moe, ka moe a Te Maunga rāua ko Hinepūkohurangi ka puta ko Ngā Tamariki o te Kohu. Ko Ngawaiata Turnbull taku īngoa he uri whakaheke nō roto i ngā tātai, tāheke kōrero ō Iharaira-Tamakaimoana, ō Ngāti Tāwhaki ki Te Urewera, o Te Whānau Pani ki Ruātoki. Ko Maungapōhatu te maunga ko Tamakaimoana, ko Ngāi Tūhoe te iwi. I tipu ake ahau he mokopuna whāngai. He mea poipoi, murimuri aroha ma ōku kuia, koroua o Tamakaimoana i te take o Maungapōhatu. I roto i tēnei whakapakeketanga ōku ka tipu ake ahau ki roto te reo me ngā tikanga o Iharaira o te poropiti a Rua Kēnana. Ē mau ngākau, wairua, hinengaro tonu nei ki ngā hapū, marae kāinga, kuia, koroua o Ngā Toenga o ngā Tamariki a Iharaira me Ngā Uri o Maungapōhatu.


My project


My name is Ngawaiata Turnbull. I am a mother of 3. I have been teaching for over 20 years; across the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. I hold a double degree in Education and Māori Studies as well as a Masters with First Class Honours in Indigenous Studies from Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi.  In 2019 I was awarded a Teach NZ scholarship to allow foundational, concentrated research and writing on my doctoral studies focused on resilience. I am grateful to Te Wharekura o Huiarau Board of Trustees for their support of me and this kaupapa. I acknowledge Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi and the valuable guidance of Professor Taiarahia Black. I’m very proud to be the recipient of the Ē au ai te reo, 3 year doctorate scholarship and acknowledge the Whanake Te Kura ki Tawhiti Nui programme of the Resilience National Science Challenge.

From the age of nine months I was raised in Ruatāhuna and Maungapōhatu by my kuia and koroua who ensured an environment infused in the philosophy, cosmology, language and practices of Iharaira-Tamakaimoana. Some years ago a quote attributed to my grandfather was brought to my attention. This is the quote:

“Kua kitea e te ao kāore he hara o Rua, o ngā tāngata o Maungapōhatu. I whiua ai te ringa kaha o te ture ki a rātau. Kotahi noa te hara, ko tērā o te kāwanatanga nāna nei i whakarere i te toto ki Maungapōhatu. Ahakoa rā, kāre anō te kāwanatanga i haramai ki te horoi i tōna hara ki a Maungapōhatu. Kai reira tonu te riko o te toto. Ka hoatu au i tēnei kawenga mā koutou, mā ngā tamariki e whakatutuki kia pai ai taku moe.”[1]


Ngawaiata overlooking the sacred mountain from near the location of one of Rua Kēnana’s earliest homes, Tukutoromiro. In the middle distance can be seen Hiruharama Hou, one of Rua’s later homes. Maungapōhatu 2019.

Essentially this statement awoke a sadness inside me for the seen and unseen impacts suffered by my Koro and successive generations of Iharaira-Maungapōhatu as a result of the unjust invasion of Maungapōhatu which took place in April 1916. My doctorate research aspires to contribute in a meaningful way, to the continued resilience of Iharaira for future generations. Written in te reo, my doctorate thesis will aim to strengthen, restore, and reinstate the essence, identity, cohesiveness, cadence of heritage reo narratives of Iharaira-Tamakaimoana of Maungapōhatu. The key kaikōrero and holders of this knowledge are generally aged in their 60s to 80s therefore there is a sense of urgency to compile these oral and written literatures.


Te kaupapa ake

A strong sense of connection and history is the source and inspiration of my research around the teachings of the 20th century Tūhoe visionary leader Rua Kēnana Hepetipa and the Iharaia faith established by him at Maungapōhatu. As part of the momentum of the Royal Assent of the Rua Kēnana Pardon Act achieved on 21st December 2019, my doctoral thesis seeks to recover and expand upon the knowledge, wisdom and examples of resilience located with the Iharaira experience over time. The lived and living narratives of Iharaira are essential to establish and grow the canons of reo academic knowledge; wealth-creation to build resilient and sustainable reo communities for Iharaira-Tamakaimoana present and future generations.  Inculcated in this thesis will be theological scriptural verse, sung and spoken chants and an anthology of poetic verse to support marae wānanga, whaikōrero (oratory) and karanga (ceremonial calls) of Maungapōhatu and Ruatāhuna.


Ki hea ake

“Kāore te whakamā i ahau” resource publication in honour of the exodus of Ngā Toenga o Ngā Tamariki a Iharaira me Nga Uri o Maungapōhatu, who travelled to Parliament over 3 days to witness the second and third readings of the Rua Kēnana Statutory Pardon Bill, 18th December 2019.

Alongside kuia, koroua of Iharaira I compiled a trilogy of waiata mōteatea in 2019 titled “Kāore te whakamā i ahau.” This research publication was initiated to commemorate the final reading of the Rua Kēnana Pardon Bill achieved 18th December 2019. This literature resource contributes to the resilience of today’s diverse Iharaira whānau, especially so over the course of 3 days, where Iharaira traversed to Parliament as witness to the final reading of the Rua Kēnana Pardon Bill. The title, “Kāore te whakamā i ahau” is taken from one of the two compositions by Rua Kēnana which are included in the publication. Significantly, this particular mōteatea has been written into the legislation of the Bill. Acknowledgements to Te Puni Kōkiri, Ngā Toenga o Nga Tamariki a Iharaira me Ngā Uri o Maungapōhatu Trust and Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi for support to publish this resource.

On Saturday the 3rd of April 2021 (Easter weekend), Ngā Toenga o Ngā Tamariki o Iharaira me Nga Uri o Maungapōhatu, together with Tamakaimoana hapū and Tuapou Marae Committee will host a foundational Rua Kēnana Symposium reflecting on the life and legacy of this tīpuna. This date coincides with the 105 year anniversary of the unjust invasion and occupation of Maungapohatu 2nd-5th April 1916.

The symposium will celebrate three millennium epoch: (1) The signing of the Rua Kenana Pardon Act, 12 September, 18 December 2019. (2) The Royal Assent of the Rua Kēnana Pardon Act signed at Maungapōhatu by the Governor General, Dame Patsy Reddy, witnessed by Kīngi Tūheitia Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, 21 December 2019 (3) Present a landmark retrospective exhibition of Rua Kēnana Taonga in Te Ao Hou whare tīpuna, Tuapou marae in collaboration with Whakatāne museum Mark Sykes, Tapara Reid-Hiakita and Dr Arapata Hakiwai of Te Papa Tongarewa.


Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand and the Whakatane District Museum meet with Tuapou Marae in preparations for the inaugural Rua Kēnana Symposium. January 2021, Matahī. (Ngawaiata and her daughter, Owhakaori, seated far right).

I wish to highlight the efforts of Toni Boynton, Secretary of Tuapou Marae Committee and direct descendant of Rua Kēnana Hepetipa and Pinepine Te Rika. Toni and her team presented a petition to Parliament in 2020 to abolish the discriminatory legislation around the establishment of Māori Wards. Currently in the Māori Select Committee phase of the legislature process, this Bill echoes strongly the legacy, vision and resilience of Rua Kēnana, Iharaira – “Kotahi te ture mo nga iwi e rua, Maungapōhatu”.   






[1] Whārangi tuarua o te pukapuka a NgāToenga o Ngā Tamariki a Iharaira Charitable Trust, “A Statutory Pardon for the 1916 Invasion of Maungapohatu” contained in the Official Statutory Pardon Publication June 2017 Mataatua Marae, Rotorua


Don’t just think about earthquakes, prepare for them



Findings from Dr Lauren Vinnell’s PhD research will help fine-tune the kind of advice communities need to better prepare for earthquakes and other natural hazards


For her PhD in Psychology, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington’s Dr Lauren Vinnell studied how the thoughts and beliefs people hold about preparing for natural hazards influences their behaviour.

She also identified potential new strategies to encourage improved household preparation.


Photo credit: Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington

Lauren, who graduated in December, has always been fascinated by natural hazards such as earthquakes and volcanoes.

“But I didn’t see a way to include my interest in people’s behaviour until my third undergrad year during a lecture about how we can use our understanding of psychology to improve outcomes during and after earthquakes.

She undertook honours and a Master’s degree, focusing on public support for earthquake-strengthening legislation.  Then she was awarded a PhD scholarship by Kia manawaroa – Ngā Ākina o Te Ao Tūroa/Resilience to Nature’s Challenges National Science Challenge to explore social influences on people’s decisions to prepare for natural hazards.

Lauren says there were a few revelations on the way.

“It was a bit surprising how many people said they hadn’t done a certain action because they hadn’t thought about it.

“What was even more surprising was that we didn’t find that thinking about preparing related with actually preparing. This suggests there are specific actions which people don’t know they can or should do, but that generally thinking about preparing isn’t the problem.”

Lauren says preparedness among Wellingtonians for dealing with natural hazards is fairly low, despite high knowledge of the risk.

Participants in the first two studies were mainly recruited using social media, although samples using this method tended to favour younger people and over-represented women and Pākehā, she says.

The third study involved people at randomly selected addresses to get a sample that better reflected the Wellington population. The fourth study, to evaluate the ShakeOut earthquake drill run by the National Emergency Management Agency, involved participants from across the country.

Lauren found providing targeted information for communities to use in their preparedness is the key.

“Our findings offer ideas to improve the way we talk to communities to encourage them to prepare, really focusing on the types of thoughts and beliefs they have which hold them back.”

Lauren also experimented with people’s understanding of terminology.

“In study two, half of the participants were asked about ‘natural hazards’ and the other were asked about ‘natural disasters’. There is a strong argument in the field that the term ‘natural disaster’ is inappropriate, as disasters are the result of human decisions which lead to exposure to risk.

“Very little research has explored how the use of the term might influence behaviour. Our participants largely didn’t differ in terms of how they think about natural hazards versus natural disasters, but they did differ in terms of how their thinking related to their intentions to prepare.”

She says the findings suggest  that talking about disasters implies that something terrible has already happened and therefore can’t really be prepared for, whereas hazards refer to the potential for something bad to happen, which can therefore be prevented.

“But we need to do further work to back up this suggestion.This finding also emphasises the importance of considering the words we use when talking to communities.”

An evaluation of the ShakeOut earthquake drill showed those who participated have better knowledge of the correct protective actions to take during shaking and that these people are more likely to have used those actions during actual earthquakes, Lauren says.

“Given the high proportion of injuries during earthquakes in Aotearoa which could be prevented by people knowing and using ‘Drop, cover, and hold’, this support for the effectiveness of ShakeOut is encouraging.”

Lauren has now begun a postdoctoral fellowship at the Joint Centre for Disaster Research at Massey University, investigating how people respond and behave when asked to consider multiple hazards at once.

This article was originally published on the Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington website and is reproduced here with permission. 


Using data sensors to understand tourist disaster risk


Mat Darling is a PhD student at the University of Canterbury funded by our Rural programme, and his research seeks to better understand the disaster risk exposure of tourists in New Zealand. Mat is using new data sources to track real time movements of tourists, in order to help emergency managers plan more accurately for natural hazard event response in tourist hotspots. Mat’s latest research uses data sensors to build a picture of peaks and lulls at key hotspots.


Mat picks up the story…

We have deployed a network of sensors which operate in a real time sense across key tourism hotspots of the South Island. We are moving towards a model that aims to characterise visitation throughout the course of the day under different scenarios (e.g. school holidays, public holidays, weekend vs weekday). This is fundamental to understanding how busy places may be during the course of a day, but where people may not traditionally stay overnight (e.g. Piopiotahi / Milford Sound), and using this information to inform disaster risk assessments in a dynamic sense.  

Through passively listening for anonymised wifi pings of a cellular device, we can begin to build a picture of how busy a place may be through the course of a day. Any device with wifi turned on will continuously send a ping looking for wifi network to connect to every minute or so. We can count the number of pings within a 100 – 200m range as a proxy for people in an area. With these signatures, we can begin to characterise and predict how different places may be occupied through the course of the day.

Below, is the ‘average’ day in Milford Sound since we began monitoring in May 2020. We can look at how this varies from ‘average’ across different days of the week, different COVID alert levels, or holiday periods.