Impact case study:
Partnership as the pathway to impact

 


September 2021

We rely on collaborations with our partners and stakeholders in order to achieve our mission, including Challenge parties, other NSCs and aligned research organisations, iwi and hapū, government agencies, and councils.

Growing Kai Under Increasing Dry was a collaboration between RNC, Deep South and Our Land & Water NSCs to develop a ‘rolling symposium’ on drought and the primary sector. The series of three webinars and an in-person symposium focused on how the primary sector can build resilience to increasingly frequent and severe drought. We used the webinars to share NSC research, while the symposium allowed wide-ranging stakeholder discussions, particularly in relation to policy development by central government. A summary report is close to completion, which identifies responsibilities of the relevant sectors, and next steps.

 

Delegates at our Growing Kai under Increasing Dry symposium at Te Papa. Photo copyright Mark Coote.

We received really positive feedback from key stakeholders, particularly on way they were able to access expertise from the NSCs through a ‘single front door’.

RNC is part of a collaborative project supporting the deployment of seismometers in schools around the motu, alongside Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington, Massey University, University of Canterbury, GNS Science, ECLIPSE, QuakeCoRE, and East Coast LAB. The project aims to increase knowledge about earthquakes, tsunami and protective behaviours, encourage interest in the role of science in understanding the environment, and show pathways to future education and careers.

Under Phase 1, we co-funded a research project in partnership with QuakeCoRE to develop Māori-centred seismic hazard education activities for kura. Led by Lucy Kaiser (GNS Science, Massey University’s Joint Centre for Disaster Research) the activities are designed to encourage tuākana-tēina mentorship and increase the knowledge and preparedness of tamariki in the Hawke’s Bay and Wellington regions. Lucy was awarded the GNS Science Early Career Researcher Award at the 2020 Science NZ Awards in recognition of this mahi.

The Alpine Fault earthquake preparedness and response planning programme AF8 is a cross-boundary organisation funded by six South Island CDEM groups, QuakeCoRE and EQC, with science support from RNC’s Rural programme.

In autumn 2021 the team rolled out the AF8 Roadshow, sharing science with local communities from Invercargill to Golden Bay. Over 11 weeks, scientists including our research leaders Assoc Prof Caroline Orchiston, Assoc Prof Liam Wotherspoon, and Prof Tom Wilson visited 16 schools and held 16 public science talks. The events attracted a total audience of approximately 3,000 people. The events sparked new conversations about what can be done to boost local earthquake resilience, and the team received plenty of positive feedback from the public. 

The RNC Volcano programme is deepening existing partnerships and building new relationships in Taranaki and the Central North Island. Programme co-leader Prof Jon Procter is the new Chair of the Taranaki Seismic and Volcano Advisory Group (TSVAG) and is working closely with GeoNet to improve the volcanic monitoring network for Taranaki maunga. TSVAG is a critically important group for the provision of volcano science advice for Taranaki. RNC researchers are constantly transferring new methods and models into practice in partnership with Taranaki stakeholders as evidenced by two hazard assessments supplied to the Department of Conservation.[1] [2] The team is also working closely with Taranaki CDEM staff on volcano crisis contingency planning and risk communication. In particular, researchers have supplied the CDEM group with data and hazard GIS layers to develop a series of public hazard maps and infographics.

Jon Procter also leads a project in our Whanake Te Kura i Tawhiti Nui programme, working with Ngāti Rangi to identify wai (waters) associated with Matua te Mana (Maunga Ruapehu). Through wānanga, researchers and mana whenua aim to share knowledge about volcanic waters and the mauri, wairua and life-supporting capacity of these features.

In December 2020 researchers took part in a hīkoi with Ngāti Rangi to observe their environmental and volcano monitoring programme. At that time Matua te Mana was in a period of heightened unrest. Iwi-led environmental monitoring based on traditional sites picked up the changes in the Crater Lake that GNS Science had also detected, indicating an eruption. The project seeks to develop a joint mātauranga Māori / science-based water-monitoring framework of indicators that relate to volcanic processes and changing behaviours for Matua te Mana.

 

[1] Mead, S., Procter, J., Bebbington, M., 2020: Volcanic hazards to Taranaki Crossing from Taranaki and Fanthams Peak. Commissioned by the Department of Conservation. Volcanic Risk Solutions, Massey University, 46 p. 

 

[2] Procter, J.N., Bebbington, M., Mead, S., 2018: Pouakai Crossing volcanic hazard assessment. A report commissioned by the Department of Conservation. Volcanic Risk Solutions, Massey University, 32 p.

This case study was submitted to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment as part of our 2020-21 annual reporting. 

AF8 Roadshow 2021: The Science Beneath Our Feet

 


August 2021

 

We can’t predict earthquakes, but we can prepare for them. The AF8 Roadshow: The Science Beneath Our Feet shares Alpine Fault hazard science and preparedness information with communities likely to be impacted by the next Alpine Fault earthquake. It is designed to enable conversations, activate local knowledge, and support informed decision-making to increase awareness of, and our preparedness for, a future event.

New Zealanders are excellent at coming together to support each other in an emergency. The AF8 Roadshow encourages people to have these conversations in advance, so we can be better prepared for a future Alpine Fault earthquake.

Building on the success of the 2019 AF8 Roadshow, the 2021 itinerary was expanded to 16 public science talks and 16 school visits around the South Island. This second tour was well-received with record turnouts and an increased demand for information, reaching a total of 2,974 people over the course of 8 weeks from March-July 2021. The full 2021 itinerary can be found here.

 

Full house in Kokatahi. Credit: AF8

The AF8 Roadshow leverages the close partnership between science and emergency management, demonstrating the value of working together to be better prepared for natural hazard events in New Zealand. The talks are hosted by the local Emergency Management Group, with 11 science presenters of diverse expertise supporting the delivery of the public science talks in 2021.

AF8 Programme Lead, Alice Lake-Hammond explains, “By making this science available in a community setting, sharing it in a local context where it is of most relevance to the community, this is where it comes alive and where we see actions beginning to be taken.”

Mt Hutt College, Methven

“An hour-long talk is typically followed by an hour-plus Q&A session where the audience can gain clarification of the hazard science and better understand how it applies to them.”

“Often the answers start to come from within the community itself and it this sharing of local knowledge and experience that is so crucial to moving from a general awareness of the hazard to an active preparedness for a future event.”

The South Island Emergency Management Groups also recognise the AF8 Roadshow as one of the most effective way to bring their communities together to connect:

“This is a fantastic opportunity for our communities to be involved in learning more about an event that could impact on them. The Roadshow really makes science accessible.” – Emergency Management Officer, Marlborough.

And, the engagement and feedback from schools has been equally as positive:

“The 3D mapping demonstrated the content really well. Students were able to visualise content that had been previously discussed. The tutor was inclusive and made sure everyone could see and have input into the discussions.” – Teacher, Otago

“I’m really scared of earthquakes. But now I understand why we have they and what I can do about them, I feel much better. Thank you for coming.” – Student, Golden Bay

The more we talk about the Alpine Fault, the more people want to know and it’s important that we keep these conversations going. A third AF8 Roadshow is planned for 2022.

 

AF8 Roadshow partners include: the six South Island Emergency Management Groups, The Earthquake Commission, QuakeCoRE: NZ Centre for Earthquake, Resilience to Nature’s Challenges and GNS Science.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impact case study:
Partnership as the pathway to impact

 


How did Resilience Challenge research have an impact in 2019-2020?

 

Interdisciplinary science is an approach well suited to natural hazards research. It is almost never the case that an exclusively engineering, social, or geological research output is the solution to a resilience need. Multiple perspectives and diverse knowledge must be integrated to facilitate change and achieve impact. The coordination necessary for success requires leadership by those willing to work across the boundaries of their discipline or organisation, and agencies that are willing to partner with others with shared aims.

The Alpine Fault earthquake preparedness and planning programme AF8 (with science support from RNC’s Rural programme and co-funding from CDEM and QuakeCore) continues to be a very effective cross-boundary collaboration. It provides an effective direct pathway for RNC to connect multiple strands of resilience research into practical initiatives to build community-level resilience, and facilitate sector planning and preparedness.

This year the AF8 scenarios, including RNC’s network infrastructure disruption work, have been used by agencies including Fire & Emergency New Zealand, Ministry for Social Development and MBIE in their emergency planning for an Alpine Fault earthquake. For MBIE this includes the development of plans for temporary housing following a national-scale emergency, filling what was a critical gap in national emergency planning.

In September, AF8 hosted the inaugural Tourism Forum in Te Anau, attracting over 100 participants including emergency managers and tourism stakeholders. RNC researchers Prof Tom Wilson and Mat Darling presented on the AF8 science scenario, and tourism and disaster risk research. Minister Peeni Henare (Minister of Civil Defence and Associate Minister of Tourism) attended and is very supportive of AF8’s work.

RNC knowledge of infrastructure network vulnerabilities to multiple natural hazards was integrated in the updated  New Zealand Critical Lifelines Infrastructure National Vulnerability Assessment, published in May 2020. Our Built Environment science leader Assoc Prof Liam Wotherspoon is named as a contributor in the report, along with science leaders Dr Rob Bell and Prof Tom Wilson.

 

Orewa, the most exposed community to tsunami in the Auckland region

We’ve also seen partnerships delivering greater resilience at a local level. A team of RNC researchers including Dr Emma Hudson-Doyle, Dr Caroline Orchiston, Dr Julia Becker, Lisa McLaren, and Prof David Johnston worked with Rotary and Auckland Council in Orewa, the most exposed community to tsunami in the Auckland region. The citizen-science initiative sought active participation from schools, families and the wider community. Researchers co-designed a survey to understand perceptions of tsunami risk, how prepared the community were for a tsunami, and what they were likely to do in a tsunami event. They then carried out a tsunami evacuation exercise with two schools to observe how long it took for the students to get to high ground, and the factors affecting evacuation times. The community-led initiative was successful at engaging and motivating the residents of Orewa to improve their knowledge and awareness, so that they will be quicker to react following the next long, strong earthquake.

In another tsunami-prone community, Napier City Council have used RNC research to inform the three phases of their Hill Hosts project. The project aims to raise awareness about tsunami risk, and the need for evacuation to Napier Hill following a long or strong earthquake. Hill residents were encouraged to prepare and plan for evacuees; and the council also identified infrastructure and services improvements that would support evacuation. Napier City Council CE Wayne Jack wrote to the research team acknowledging their contribution to the council’s planning and preparedness process.

2019 research co-authored by Scion social fire scientist 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 gathered information through semi-structured interviews and a focus group, and found that experiencing the fire encouraged a majority of 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.

 

This case study was submitted to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment as part of our 2019-2020 annual reporting. 

 

Impact case study:
Responsive science for national emergencies

 


Resilience to Nature’s Challenges (RNC) has a unique role among National Science Challenges, with obligations under the National Civil Defence Management Plan (2015) to enable coordination of post-event research activity. As we have demonstrated in 2019-20, we’re able to add significant value by linking and coordinating across the science system, and supporting the direct input of science into decision-making during natural hazard emergencies.

In December 2019, six days of heavy rain caused the Rangitata River to overtop its banks, causing extensive flooding of farmland and roads. The event had significant national consequences, cutting off State Highway 1 and disrupting the national electricity grid. Our Built Environment team collected empirical data alongside other agencies to better understand the impacts of such an event, and University of Auckland postgraduate students supervised by Assoc Prof Liam Wotherspoon are developing a case study database in collaboration with affected network owners. This will inform other RNC projects by adding to the wider database of case history evidence of infrastructure component performance.

In Southland in February 2020, a month’s rainfall in a single day washed out roads and bridges and caused flooding and landslides. Fiordland was hit hard, with hundreds of tourists trapped in Milford Sound and on tramping tracks. The Rural programme’s science leadership in the AF8 (Alpine Fault magnitude 8) programme contributed to the Fiordland Hazards Group planning for disruptive events over several years prior to the floods. The flooding response was enhanced by these existing relationships, and the response planning efforts already in place. The evacuation of Milford Sound was the largest ever conducted in New Zealand. The Rural programme is leading innovative research to understand tourist risk exposure using geospatial tools, which will continue to support emergency managers in effective response planning.  

 

Road damage in Fiordland. Credit: Milford Road Alliance

The tragic Whakaari eruption on December 9th was the start of an unexpectedly busy period for a number of RNC researchers who assisted with the eruption response, providing regular expert commentary in the media, supporting GeoNet with risk assessments and risk communication, working with local iwi, providing specialist advice to agencies such as NEMA, MOH and MPI, and coordinating the identification of science and research priorities.

COVID-19 has been a significant event for many of our programmes. We mobilised early to provide integrated advice to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet as part of their strategic recovery planning, compiling short summaries of lessons from past natural hazard events to identify a set of issues that could be anticipated in medium-and longer-term recovery planning. 

RNC programmes also mobilised to contribute to the COVID-19 research effort. Our Resilience in Practice co-leader Dr Nick Cradock-Henry and colleagues identified the convergence of winter/spring flood risk and COVID-19 economic impacts in rural communities as a driver for increased social inequities, providing targets for stimulus investment. This analysis has been applied to consideration of investment in enhanced flood protection schemes through the ‘Shovel-Ready’ government stimulus, supported by the DIA Community Resilience Programme. This modelling capability is now being drawn on by Te Punaha Matatini to integrate social and economic impact modelling into overall COVID-19 scenario modelling.

RNC researchers have been active contributors to the national dialogue about priorities for the COVID-19 recovery stimulus. In numerous opinion pieces and media appearances, Prof Iain White and Prof Ilan Noy advocated for transformative change that boosts our local and national resilience to future disruptive events including climate change.

The multiple dimensions of the pandemic and economic recession are also informing our natural hazard resilience research, in the areas of multi-hazard modelling, consideration of livelihoods, the political dimensions of risk, and adaptation to multiple stressors. Several RNC programmes have brought an additional COVID-19 dimension to their work through new funding from MBIE, the Health Research Council, and Te Punaha Matatini.

Our Phase 2 Rural programme, as designed, featured a strong focus on tourism and disasters. COVID-19 has now extinguished the international tourist market for the foreseeable future, rapidly shrunk a sector that was set to be a key partner in our research programme, and exposed its vulnerability to international events. Rural programme researchers Dr Joanna Fountain, Dr Caroline Orchiston and others have been part of an emerging dialogue about the need for a ‘reimagined’ tourism system that will lead to a more sustainable and resilient industry.

The agility demonstrated in these examples is possible because of the collaborative network of researchers committed to the RNC mission, and well-established relationships with research users and decision-makers.   

This case study was submitted to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment as part of our 2019/20 annual reporting. 

 

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

 

24/05/2019


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

 

24/05/2019


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.