Building community resilience
By Gail Adams-Hutcheson
After 15 years overseas involved in personal adventure travel, it was really easy to distil what I enjoyed about culture, people, and place. My journeys took me from Tibet to the Northern Territory, across India and South East Asia and many places besides. I returned to Aotearoa in 2003 where these ideas were crafted into a degree in socio-cultural geography.
Honing in on the human dimensions of climate change and disaster impacts, led me to examine post-disaster Christchurch as a PhD topic. Specifically, I paid attention to the relocation experiences of Cantabrians who moved up to the Waikato. Working closely with families who faced the double trauma of not only the earthquakes, but also leaving the city they loved, sparked an interest in resilience.
I am also passionate about furthering knowledge in a regional university and understanding climate and rural spaces. I currently live on the same road as Hobbiton, a small rural community near Lake Karapiro, and have begun investigating rural resilience to weather impacts at the local farm scale.
I was invited on to the National Science Challenge as a postdoctoral researcher to examine conceptual thinking behind governance and the politics of operationalising resilience. It was a big learning curve when examining key strategies such as the Rockefeller 100RC Resilience Framework in Wellington and Christchurch. However, my geographical background has proven useful when advocating for contextual analysis of place(s) and the possible drawbacks of utilising national frameworks as a one-size fits all approach to resilience.
My daily work at the moment is talking with key actors working with infrastructure (utilities) resilience, organisational resilience, community development approaches to resilience, and resilience to climate change/natural hazards. These diverse conversations are proving to be rich when working toward providing data. Robust discussion centres on which types of resilience projects are being delivered in Aotearoa and the links to their governance structures which may enable or constrain resilience outcomes.