Student profile: Finn Scheele



Modelling post-disaster habitability and population displacement




A bit about me

Beginning my life in the geologically active environment of Hawke’s Bay likely had an influence on my path leading to writing this profile. Living in Napier, I have strong memories of the frequent earthquakes we would experience, reminding us of the destructive earthquake of 1931. I was also fascinated by the eruption of Mt. Ruapehu in 1995/6 and remember our garden being coated in ash. My earliest schoolbooks, in which we had to draw a picture and write a sentence or two about any topic, are filled with entries of my house being destroyed by various processes such as fire, lightning or lava. A move to Christchurch led to living through the Canterbury earthquake sequence and the associated impacts, an experience that reinforced my interest in natural hazard risk and resilience.

I majored in Geology for my undergraduate degree, and Hazard and Disaster Management for my Master’s. After completing my thesis, I worked as a yoga teacher for a few months, before relocating to Wellington and joining the Ministry for the Environment focusing on natural hazards policy. Since 2017 I’ve been working at GNS Science as a risk scientist and have recently started my PhD part-time through the University of Canterbury, supported by a scholarship from the Resilience Challenge Rural programme.

Much of my free time is taken up trying to remain fit enough to keep up with my border collie, Tui. At the time of writing, my partner and I have a lockdown baby on the way, which is one of the few times in my life I’ve done something on-trend. My priority now is getting as much done on my PhD before the inevitable baby-related tiredness sets in.


My project

To plan and prepare for future events we need to have a good understanding of the impacts to communities. This means going beyond physical damage assessments to examine the impacts to individuals and households. My project will develop models to measure the impacts of natural hazard events to residential habitability and associated population displacement. Important questions include: What are the factors that lead to loss of habitability and population displacement? How long will people be out of their homes, and where will they relocate? What preparation, response and recovery actions could help keep communities together?

Answering these questions will require complex modelling techniques, data collection and analysis. It is essential to account for the variability in natural hazard event types, built environment impacts such as building damage and utility outage, and the variation of community and household characteristics. For example, a major earthquake affecting a city will have different impacts to a flood affecting a rural community. I will be examining the experiences from past events in New Zealand and internationally to gather insight into the important factors to incorporate in the modelling. The models will be agent-based, to account for individual and household decision-making, as well as test the influence of different actions (e.g. increasing household preparedness or providing various temporary housing options).


Next steps

There’s lots of exciting sub-projects that I’m involved in that will contribute towards this research. The first is developing a population model for New Zealand, in which individuals and households are synthetically created to reflect the statistics of an area, including the number of people, their demographics and household composition. I’ll also be looking at adding animal companions to households, to help account for decision-making regarding pets, particularly when choosing alternative accommodation.

Secondly, I’m working on multiple projects examining the impacts of recent events on households in terms of population displacement. These include the Canterbury earthquakes, the 2017 Edgecumbe flooding and the 2020 Southland flooding.

Building on previous work, I’m piecing together the models and learning more about agent-based modelling techniques. I’m looking forward to sharing the draft results in the coming year and working with decision-makers to ensure they’re as useful as possible.


Student profile: Lucia Danzi



Embarking on a PhD in Covid-19 lockdown




Ciao! My name is Lucia and I’m from Verona, Italy.  

It’s the beginning of spring here, and people usually go out to enjoy the nice weather but these days it’s strangely quiet, like in many places around the world. I’m lucky enough to live in a house with a big garden so there’s a lot of space for all of us, and that’s good because there’s nine people in my “bubble”!

I live with my grandparents and siblings and we take care of each other, especially during these challenging times. Of course, it’s not always easy, but we are quite united so it helps a lot. I believe it’s now more important than ever to be kind to each other and remember we are not alone in this. I have my “home office” from where I work and I’ve set myself a good routine that includes taking breaks in the garden, exercise in the evening and ticking off my books list.


At the end of this month I should have been on my way to New Zealand to start my PhD on tourism, emergency management and rural disaster resilience, within the Rural research programme. But, as for many of us, the pandemic has changed my plans and I’m starting remotely instead, while waiting for the new exciting beginning! The aim of the PhD is to develop an integrated approach that includes tourism stakeholders and emergency managers, is based on collaboration and communication as resilience tools, can be adopted by small-sized tourism businesses and has been tested for New Zealand rural communities. The project will apply mixed methods, among which literature reviews, surveys, qualitative interviews, vulnerability assessments, workshops and focus groups. I’ll do the project development and the literature review from home, keeping in contact with my supervisors through regular virtual meetings

Andrà tutto bene – everything will be ok


A bit about me 

With a background in languages and tourism economics and management, I am particularly interested in how tourism can be developed in a sustainable way, acting as a tool to meet societal and environmental challenges. I have spent the last year working as a postgraduate scholar with the Centre for Advanced Studies in Tourism (CAST) in Rimini, Italy, on a project for the regeneration of the Regional Park of Corno alle Scale in the Italian Appennines. I was interviewing tourists and talking to stakeholders to understand their awareness of climate change impacts as well as their vision on possible alternatives for tourism development in the park.

As I have learned when completing my master’s thesis on climate change impacts and adaptation in tourism, well-developed adaptation and risk reduction policies are key for reaching sustainability. When I was looking for a PhD to develop my research skills, I knew I wanted to explore the disaster risk and resilience topic more, and find something that could link my passion for nature and for working closely with stakeholders. Also, I wanted to work on something that could have practical applications and be useful for society. This led me to the doctoral research project scoped by Resilience to Nature’s Challenges which I hope will help to understand how the tourism sector and emergency management can work more effectively in New Zealand.


Student profile: Lydia Michela Maireriki


Tourist resilience to natural hazards in New Zealand: combining quantitative and qualitative perspectives



A bit about me 


I was born and raised in Maryland, USA, about an hour south of Washington, DC. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Brigham Young University and my Master’s degree in Disaster Risk and Resilience from the University of Canterbury. I moved to New Zealand in 2017 where I met my now-husband Mahu, a very charismatic Cook Islander. We have one son and a daughter on the way. I’m a member of the Mid-Canterbury TimeBank and am part of its emergency preparedness planning team. When not studying or running our family business, I like to swim, do stained glass, and read books that help me view the world differently. My most recent read was Invisible Women on the gender data gap. I highly recommend it to everyone, particularly researchers.


My project


As part of the Challenge’s Rural theme, I’ve just started my PhD through Lincoln University, with supervisors Jo Fountain, Stephen Espiner and Nick Cradock-Henry. 

Tourism is an important part of New Zealand’s economy and international reputation. My research project is looking at what it means to be a resilient tourist in a resilient tourism system here in New Zealand. I’ll be looking at particularly vulnerable tourist groups to better understand their in situ hazard and risk awareness, preparedness level, anticipated course of action, and information-seeking processes should a disaster such as an extreme weather event or earthquake occur. My focus will be on vulnerable places (e.g. rural areas) and people (e.g. freedom campers). I will do a mix of quantitative research via surveys and qualitative research via interviews. There is currently a lack of qualitative information on tourists’ perceptions of risks and hazards, their preparedness and anticipated response.

My main research question is:

What are the characteristics of tourists’ resilience to disaster within the context of New Zealand’s tourism system?

Related sub-questions are:

What are different ways of defining and conceptualizing tourist resilience to disaster?

What are key socio-demographic factors that affect risk awareness, preparedness and vulnerability?

Based on my findings, how can information providers (e.g. Department of Conservation, tourism businesses) increase tourists’ resilience in their respective areas of influence?


Lydia with her family

Next steps


I have been enrolled in my PhD for only a month, so I’m at the very beginning of my project, but I am very excited about developing our understanding of tourist resilience and provide information that can be applied in real world situations. My immediate goal is to complete my research proposal before my daughter arrives in a couple of months!!!

Student Profile: Nhi Le



Using social network analysis in the study of supply chain resilience




A bit about me 


I grew up in a lovely little town of an agricultural province in Vietnam. My love of warm-hearted and hard-working farmers in my hometown has nurtured my passion to contribute to the agriculture sector.

When I was 18, I moved to the big Ho Chi Minh city to pursue a Bachelor of International Business Economics. After 2 years working for a Vietnamese Logistics Research and Development Institute and a local logistics company, I gained a meaningful scholarship from the New Zealand Aid Programme to study in this beautiful Kiwi land which is world-famous for its agriculture.

I am now pursuing a Master’s in Supply Chain Management in Massey University. Here, thanks to my supervisor, I have received the awesome opportunity to work a Scion project titled “Evaluating the Resilience of NZ Rural Value Chains against Natural Hazards”. Within this Resilience Challenge project I have been working on my thesis, aiming to apply social network analysis to evaluating resilience, especially for agricultural supply chains.

In my spare time I enjoy going on road trips and playing the guitar.


My project


The purpose of my thesis project is to assess and select suitable tools for social network analysis of supply chain resilience. The main question of my research is: “How can Social Network Analysis (SNA) be applied to evaluate the resilience of supply chains?”

Specifically, below are some questions I hope to answer with this research:

Q1: Which tools of SNA are applicable in the study of resilience?

Q2: Which properties of supply chains networks can SNA tools investigate?

Q3: Which aspects of supply chain resilience can SNA tools evaluate?

Q4: What values could SNA add to the research area?

Q5: What are the limitations of applying SNA to the research area?

My research uses a network of agricultural supply chains in the North Canterbury region of New Zealand’s south island as a case study. The data is gathered by a data collection team in Scion’s resilience project. The research analysis ranges from micro to macro level, including bottom-up and top-down approaches. It involves selecting potential useful tools of SNA, conducting each analysis tool and combining results from those tools to evaluate the network resilience, then, critiquing the applications. In each analysis I aim to explore the network structure and configuration and how complex it is with organizational interdependency, connectedness, and positions or roles in the network. The network resilience is investigated through its attributes of robust sub-structures, vulnerability, knowledge and information management, and disruption response.


Next steps


I have finished data collection and cleaning, and chosen specific analysis tools already. Now I am concentrating on results interpretation and analysis critiques. Once the findings and core contents are finalized, I will complete writing up the remaining parts. My thesis is due to be completed in July 2019. Afterwards, I will submit it to some academic conferences to prepare for writing up a paper from the research.

Even though the project is challenging for me as SNA is quite new in the research area, I enjoy discovering the NZ agricultural network in a rural area, especially working in an awesome team with support from my supervisor Prof. Paul Childerhouse (Massey University), my project leader Dr Robert Radics (Scion), and my teammate Ngoc Le (Massey University).

Student Profile: Ngoc Le



Diagnostics of Supply Chain Agility in rural New Zealand using Social Network Analysis




A bit about me

Xin chào! I am from Vietnam. My teachers, lecturers, and friends usually call me Ms. “1000 questions” as I tend to ask until I understand almost every piece of a phenomenon. My recipe for battling stress is volunteering, wandering around, talking with the locals, and trying local/ signature food.

My undergraduate background is finance. I worked in Operations and Business Analysis for 6 years before pursuing a Master of Supply Chain Management at Massey University, New Zealand in 2018. This programme fits me well as I am really keen on understanding the linkage between and among entities which form and govern economic systems.  Thanks to Professor Paul Childerhouse, I had a priceless opportunity to work on the Rural Value Chains project led by Scion and funded by Resilience to Nature’s Challenges.


My project


The Scion’s project has two key parts; economic input-output analysis and network analysis. These parts mutually complement each other and allow us to evaluate rural value chain resilience in the context of natural hazards.

My thesis project stems from and builds on the second part by examining supply chain agility in rural settings. Agility is a critical component for survival and competitiveness and is usually regarded as the other side of supply chain resilience, along with robustness. My research focuses on three key aspects of agility; visibility, responsiveness, and network reshaping after disruptions. From the social network perspective and social network analysis methods (SNA), this study factors in both dynamics and interconnectedness of relationships among supply chain members.

The direction of my research is determined by the following set of questions:

Question 1: Which network characteristics may impact supply chain agility?

Question 2: How is agility distributed across the network? In other words, is it equally distributed or skewed towards some subgroups?

Question 3: Which entities are important in terms of both potentially positive and negative impact on supply chain agility?

Question 4: In which industry does the supply chain tend to be more agile?

I’m using data collected from the larger Scion project as a case study to perform analysis using SNA tools that are currently available. We hope to determine the overall state of network agility in Hurunui District through this work. We may also be able to discern the facilitators and barriers for network agility in the area. Our relative comparison of agility between agriculture and tourism and hospitality networks may also result in the discovery of practices that are worth learning and sharing among economic sectors.

Despite challenges of paucity in references, I enjoy every piece of this journey. There is always something new to learn every day. Many “wows” appear when some initial findings beat my ingrained assumptions. For instance, as illustrated in the following figure, without B017, information cannot flow across the network. This entity is important to network vulnerability though it is of medium size and just has a few supply chain connections.

Next steps


I am going to finish up my thesis in the next two months. By then, I hope my findings may shed light on how organisations can manage their portfolio of relations to leverage critical relationships in SC disruptive events. This may also help to identify the opportunities and constraints each of them faces when developing resilience capabilities because of specific positions in the network. My project may provide a starting point for more empirical research and levelling up the agility to multidimensional resilience for rural value chains.


Towards a stronger Kaikōura: a community event





Kaikōura community members gathered on the 10th of April to hear from researchers who have been working in the area since the 2016 quake.

The event, hosted by two government-funded National Science Challenges – Sustainable Seas and Resilience to Nature’s Challenges, saw seven multi-disciplinary researchers speak about their work.

Topics ranged from the physical recovery of marine ecosystems whose habitats were altered in the quake, to the recovery of Kaikōura’s hard-hit tourism industry and the quake’s impact on the Māori marine economy and ‘Blue economy’ in the area.

At the midway point the group gathered for refreshments, over which many lively conversations were had about the preceding talks.

After the break speakers resumed, with the first outlining her work understanding how community initiatives facilitated social recovery. This was followed by a talk on how we can ensure our visitors are prepared for future events, and finally preliminary findings from a study looking at tsunami evacuation after the quake.

At the end of each session the floor was opened for comments and questions, which resulted in interesting discussions between locals and researchers. In many cases those who attended provided valuable insight and information that will go on to inform this research in the future. 

The event was widely appreciated by attendees, and demonstrated the value and importance of researchers sharing the work they are doing with the affected community and participants. 

Kd Scattergood, Kaikōura District Council Emergency Management Officer said, “Over the last two years, we have been talking to a lot of researchers and sharing our experiences with them. It was great to see the fruit of all that work and I look forward to working with them to help the community better prepare in the future.”


If you would like to view one or all of the presentations, they are available in the video below.


Student profile: Laura Tilley



Understanding community evacuation dynamics following the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake and tsunami




A bit about me 


My passion for learning about multi-hazard disaster risk and resilience began when I was nearing the end of my undergraduate degree in physical geography at the University of Canterbury. Having experienced the 2010/2011 Canterbury Earthquake Sequence (CES), I wanted to explore how disasters such as the CES and the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake impact people and places, and how we can build resilience into communities so that they are better prepared for future hazard events. This led me to enrol in the Master of Disaster Risk and Resilience (MDRR) programme at the University of Canterbury.

Since completing my master’s I have had exciting opportunities to apply the wide range of skills I learnt during the MDRR programme. In 2018 I worked at GNS Science as a research assistant on the RiskScape project. Since finishing that summer internship at GNS, I have spent the last year working as a graduate advisor in the Hazard Risk Management team at the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management, whilst working on my thesis project.

I also love pizza, wine and puppies.


My project


My project was scoped and requested by Environment Canterbury and Kaikōura District Council Emergency Management as part of ongoing collaborative research supporting recovery in the Kaikōura District following the 2016 earthquakes. I have the awesome opportunity to work with local emergency management, hazard analysts and the Kaikōura community to better understand evacuation dynamics of the tsunami risk which followed the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake and tsunami.

The aims of my research are to:

  • Understand the risk to population and relevant assets exposed to tsunami hazard in Kaikōura
  • Develop an optimal evacuation model for emergency managers and the Kaikōura community
  • Utilise evacuation modelling to inform evacuation decision-making in planning and practice

The end goal of my project is to inform development of an optimal tsunami evacuation plan for emergency management and the Kaikōura community using agent-based modelling. Agent-based modelling will allow me to apply specific ‘rules’, based on information provided by the community, to represent realistic evacuation behaviour that was experienced during the 2016 Kaikōura event. I hope my research will increase community readiness and response and ensure safe and efficient evacuations for future tsunami hazards.

My project is a collaboration between the Resilience to Nature’s Challenges Rural research programme, and a Natural Hazards Research Platform project called ‘Quicker and safer tsunami evacuations through agent-based modelling’, led by William Power. 


Next steps


Recently, I asked for the community’s help to understand their evacuation response and tsunami preparedness. I distributed 1000 surveys around the Kaikōura township and am now processing the amazing response. Once I have finished processing the surveys I will use the information provided by the community to help inform the tsunami evacuation model. My project is due to be completed in 2020.

The awesome supervision team helping me on this project are: Assoc Prof Tom Wilson (UC), Dr Matthew Hughes (UC) and Dr Sarah Beaven (UC), with support from ECan, Kaikōura District Council Civil Defence and GNS Science.

Tourism and food security research in post-quake Kaikōura



Gradon Diprose is one of the Resilience Challenge’s newest researchers. He started at Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research in February 2019 and has jumped straight into the RNC – Rural workstream.

Gradon grew up on a dairy farm in the Waikato, and later moved to Raglan, so appreciates the importance of food production and tourism for rural and small town communities around Aotearoa. With a background in resource and environmental planning and human geography, Gradon is particularly interested in how people come together around shared concerns to create more sustainable communities.   

He’s currently working alongside Nick Cradock-Henry and Joanna Fountain (Lincoln University) in Kaikōura and North Canterbury focusing on the dynamics of rural disaster response strategies and recovery trajectories. This research has two main foci – tourism disaster response and recovery, and enhancing food security and food networks.

The work on tourism disaster response and recovery includes a recent survey (February 2019) which collected data on over 500 visitors to Kaikōura. The survey asked about their motivations to visit the region, decision-making processes, and participation or interest in a range of existing and proposed activities in the town and surrounding area. This information will be used to inform future tourism planning and regional economic development.  The survey also explored tourists’ understanding and preparedness for natural hazards, their awareness of appropriate responses, and their expectations of host communities during and after such events. The results will provide valuable insights for other rural tourism destinations throughout New Zealand, and highlights the need to consider international and domestic visitors in emergency preparedness and planning.

Gradon is also contributing to work on issues relating to regional food security and resilience in Kaikōura and North Canterbury. This workstream is investigating the emergence of new opportunities to build and strengthen local food networks for greater resilience at the community level including food tourism and rural supply chains. Food tourism is seen as a way to strengthen local networks of producers, as demand for local food products and experiences from tourists will help to ensure their economic sustainability. The findings so far suggest that having a diverse range of locally produced food can be important for a community in a natural disaster or extreme weather event, while also reducing vulnerability to international price fluctuations, shifting market demand and supply chain changes.

You can hear more about both of these pieces of research in this recent interview on RNZ with Rural’s Dr Joanna Fountain.

Student Profile: Mat Darling



Modelling transient population exposure to disaster risk





A bit about me 


I proudly hail from Otago, where my family grows fruit just outside of Cromwell. I completed an undergraduate BSc in Geology and Geography at the University of Otago in 2013. While studying, I helped NZ Red Cross out a bit through training and leading a youth emergency preparedness program. I also held roles in disaster response, youth governance and was eventually elected onto their National Board in 2012, a position I held until last year.

Following completion of my degree, I went and worked for a couple of different engineering consultancies mainly in geospatial and environmental management roles. After five years of this, I decided to return part-time and complete a Master of Disaster Risk and Resilience (MDRR) here at the University of Canterbury. I saw the field of disaster risk reduction as a nice union of my technical skills, my growing governance ability, and some of the important work Red Cross was doing following the Kaikōura and Christchurch earthquakes.

Following the completion of my MDRR I decided to move to a PhD program full time. When I am not at university you can either find me working part-time for Pattle Delamore Partners leading their Christchurch geospatial work group or volunteering with a local club skifield.


My project

My research project is tackling a significant challenge faced by New Zealand; that is understanding the exposure of our ‘transient’ visitors to disaster risk as they travel around the country. Significant decisions are often made by government stakeholders to reduce this exposure. However, we have very limited models available to understand how visitors move through New Zealand in time and space. I am aiming to build on and improve these models using big data and geospatial modelling.

This project has come as a direct outcome of the work undertaken by Project AF8, which recognised that the next step in improving New Zealand’s disaster risk modelling was to develop more dynamic ways to assess population exposure to disaster risk.  My project aims to develop new, novel indicators to build a model which better characterises transient population movements in time and space.

Further disaster risk assessments will be undertaken using this model at two scales; South Island-wide, and then a high-risk case study area (i.e. Queenstown). Given the relationship between visitor flows, infrastructure demand and likely impact on rural communities, this project has cross-cutting objectives which fit within both the Resilience Challenge’s Rural and Infrastructure research programmes.


Next steps


My PhD research is just kicking off. The initial phases I have been working on include undertaking a systematic literature review of how transient populations are included in disaster risk modelling internationally, and understanding how decision makers are currently using big data sources to understand visitor population exposure to disaster risk. Through using both of these and collaborating with stakeholders, I am working to understand the scale and accuracy of information needed to make informed decisions.

We have also been working with proof of concept geospatial modelling, applying data sources such as infrastructure load and social media to understand how well various sources characterise populations.

Critical to the success of this project is the close collaboration with stakeholders, be it decision makers or data providers. I have really enjoyed working closely with stakeholder groups in these initial stages as we collectively realise the potential of this project.



The rural impact of natural hazards



By Tyler Barton



The 2010 / 2011 Canterbury earthquake sequence had devastating consequences for urban centres such as Christchurch. Rural regions were also strongly impacted by the earthquakes, although in very different ways.

PhD candidate Tyler Barton is looking at the impacts caused by natural hazards in rural areas and how these affect individuals, businesses, and communities. He has been speaking with rural stakeholders in order to find out and document disaster impacts (and implications) specific to the rural context, and highlight the unique and very specific needs of rural populations and agribusinesses following a natural hazard. These rural needs cannot be assumed but rather must be identified by all rural actors (including communities) who are involved in the rural disaster resilience context.


Tyler Barton, PhD candidate at the University of Canterbury 


He uses experiences and insights gained from rural residents and emergency managers following the November 2016 North Canterbury earthquake as an example of how co-seismic and multi-dimensional hazards affect rural businesses and communities.

Tyler’s research explores how the compounding effects of North Canterbury’s pre-existing multi-year drought coupled with the 2016 Mw7.8 earthquake severely impacted the livelihoods of farmers and rural residents.

Rural livelihoods rely on successfully completing daily tasks, such as feeding livestock or providing water to crops. These, in turn, rely on the availability of natural resources (such as aquifers) and access to critical infrastructure (such as roads and power). The drought had created a resource-poor environment, while the co-seismic landslides resulted in roadblocks that prevented farmers from obtaining the basic requirements for a farm, such as water for crop irrigation and/or animal welfare needs.

Current disaster response practices are fundamentally based on urban models, and are not fit for purpose in the rural context. As a result, the critical importance of addressing these rural needs in a timely manner was not immediately recognized by emergency managers following the earthquake.

Tyler’s research argues the critical importance of ensuring that rural needs, priorities, and perspectives are considered in future rural disaster responses, as well as included in official disaster risk reduction efforts at all levels.


Castle Hill Station in rural Canterbury