Resilient Governance for New Zealand’s Future


Dr Vivienne Ivory

Programme Leader

WSP Opus




Resilience is not something to be simply delivered by New Zealand’s governing body, but is rather affected by the ongoing interactions between the state, markets, and civil society. There are intricate relationships that vary between sectors, scales, and problems, and a governance lens allows us to navigate this complexity and, in doing so, better understand both how to enable resilience, and where and why there may be barriers. The Resilient Governance for New Zealand’s Future programme is addressing the role played by governance, policies, and institutional and societal relationships that underpin an enduring resilience of communities to nature’s challenges. It is using research-based governance initiatives (e.g. real-life decision processes involving communities and their governments) to build inter-generational mechanisms and practices of governance that can build ongoing resilience to nature’s shocks and change.

Outcomes of this programme will enable communities and organisations to adapt and transform where necessary to local and emerging needs. This will involve negotiated, credible and actionable responses by public and private sector agencies and communities to predictable and unpredictable futures. It will also facilitate the development of new institutional frameworks where resilience is a key factor considered in decision-making in a way that incorporates the dynamic and changing nature of multiple hazards and risks, as well as social and demographic shifts in New Zealand society.



Feature: Corridor Forums – Working together for a more resilient transport network

An innovative pilot forum is bringing stakeholders, investors and users together and harnessing future thinking techniques to increase the resilience of our transport system.

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Overarching Resilience Governance Concepts

Developing a conceptual and methodological lens to guide the case study projects carried out within the Resilience Challenge, facilitating comparisons and ensuring robustness and scholarly stretch.

Project lead: Dr Vivienne Ivory

Host: WSP Opus


Case Studies

The core governance research is being undertaken within the Resilience Challenge Laboratory case studies. Each case study will include three stages (tasks): 

  1. Lessons. This task involves using multiple methods to identify and map the institutional architecture and drivers behind successful resilience in New Zealand. This will help us to understand excellence in native/adaptive practice that can be built upon for wider and deeper impact for resilience decision-making, and identify appropriate governance opportunities in the case study.
  2. Future Tools. This task involves establishing a set of tools that could potentially address the range of resilience and governance issues and desired outcomes identified with stakeholders in case study sites.
  3. Creating Future Resilience Pathways. Within the case studies, this task involves developing and integrating a set of methods, tools and practices that can most effectively fit case-study purpose and influence resilience through institutions.

Project lead: Dr Vivienne Ivory

Host: WSP Opus


Case Study Comparisons and Triangulation

Bringing together findings from the diverse case study projects and building a New Zealand-wide best practice model for resilience governance, and setting future goals that address enablers and barriers.

Project lead: Dr Vivienne Ivory

Host: WSP Opus


Feature: Managed retreat – Is the RMA up to it?

Research is underway to determine whether the Resource Management Act can enable managed retreat of communities away from areas facing increasing risk of inundation from the sea or exacerbated coastal erosion.

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Key Achievements


Managed Retreat

Our research on managed retreat investigates and develops the function and practice of environmental planning in enabling managed retreat. Our analysis of planning documents has shown that currently in New Zealand, managed retreat is an umbrella term with a range of approaches available. We have identified some inconsistencies and determined that we need more attention towards infrastructure retreat exists across RMA plans, long-term plans and asset management plans.


Resilient Mobility

Our research on resilient mobility looks at the challenge of governing distributed infrastructure systems such as the transport network. Using the example of the disruption to the transport network following the Kaikōura earthquake, we have drawn a ‘map’ of the key players involved in the system, who they are and how they interact across regions, organisations, modes; investors, operators, and users. We found a strong appetite amongst transport practitioners to consider players across the mobility system in order identify drivers of effective disaster risk reduction. 


Feature: Operationalising resilience – A heuristic framework for analysis

An examination of the kinds of resilience that are being delivered in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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Thesis Research Students

Affiliated with other Resilience Challenge programmes

Christina Hanna (PhD at the University of Waikato) – Resilience governance pathways (Rural programme).


Feature: Student Profile

Christina Hanna

Through her PhD, Christina is investigating the enablement of managed retreat in New Zealand, examining current planning practice and new opportunities for its application.

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Selected publications


Hanna, C., White, I., & Glavovic, B. (2017). Designing with nature. Build Magazine.  Retrieved from:

Hanna, C., White, I., Glavovic, B. (2017). Managed retreat in New Zealand: revealing the terminology, approaches and direction of local planning instruments. Report for the National Science Challenge: Resilience to Natures Challenges, University of Waikato, New Zealand.

 Hanna, C., White, I., Glavovic, B. (2018). Managed retreat governance: Insights from Matatā, New Zealand. Report for the National Science Challenge: Resilience to Nature’s Challenges, University of Waikato, New Zealand.

Hanna, C., White, I., & Glavovic, B. (2017). Managed retreat in New Zealand. Build Magazine. 

Ivory, V., Trotter, M., 2017. Resilience, freight mobility and governance: mapping the actors in New Zealand’s transport network. Australasian Transport Research Forum, November 2017, Auckland, New Zealand




Governance  programme details