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Characterising rural resilience in Aotearoa New Zealand: a systematic review

Spector S, Cradock-Henry NA, Beaven S, Orchiston C. 2019. Characterising rural resilience in Aotearoa-New Zealand: a systematic review. Regional Environmental Change. 19(2):543-557. doi:10.1007/s10113-018-1418-3.


The concept of ‘resilience’ has recently gained traction in a range of contexts. Its various interpretations and framings are now used to examine a variety of issues, particularly relating to the human dimensions of global change. This can pose challenges to scholars, practitioners, and policy-makers seeking to develop focused research programmes, design targeted interventions, and communicate across disciplinary boundaries.

The concept of resilience is widely used in Aotearoa-New Zealand, where it informs both government policy and research programmes. Resilience is particularly relevant in this small developed nation, which is heavily reliant on primary production in rural areas and affected by a range of geological and climatic hazards. To understand the range and extent of application of resilience in the rural context, we use systematic review methods to identify, characterise, and synthesise this knowledge base.

Currently, research applying the concept of resilience in the rural context is limited in areal extent, largely quantitative in nature, and led by a small number of researchers. There is limited evidence of collaboration. Research has focused on a small number of hazards, failing to capture the diversity of risks and hazards in addition to their impacts. The results of our analysis and methodology offer important insights for meta-analyses of risk and hazard scholarship. The findings provide a baseline to track the future progress and effectiveness of resilience interventions and help inform current and future research priorities targeting persistent vulnerabilities in rural New Zealand and elsewhere.

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