Rural Theme


Prof Tom Wilson

Programme Co-Leader

University of Canterbury


Dr Caroline Orchiston

Programme Co-Leader

University of Otago



New Zealand’s rural landscapes and communities are an iconic part of our national identity and a key economic driver, through our productive primary industries, and our tourism industry attracting hundreds of thousands of international visitors annually.

Following the success of Phase 1, the Rural programme will work with agricultural producers, the tourism sector and key rural groups that underpin New Zealand’s rural communities and economies. A resilient New Zealand requires our rural sector to thrive, so a core priority is developing evidence-based solutions for rural resilience using a co-creation approach for key industries (dairy, high-value horticulture, sheep/beef, and forestry) to ensure value-chain resilience and policies to support rural well-being.

In the case of rural communities, particularly those with high hazard pressures and high disaster vulnerability, our research will focus on rural-specific resilience solutions – extending from experiences gained in phase 1, such as in Kaikōura, North Canterbury and the West Coast, to new partnerships in new case study locations to create widely applicable knowledge and tools for other at-risk rural communities around New Zealand.

Tourism-specific research objectives will address a significant gap in understanding of tourism disaster resilience in rural New Zealand.  This will be the most comprehensive tourism and disasters programme to date. Key themes focused on tourists/transients, tourism organisations and tourism governance will inform the development of targeted resilience solutions using scenario-based approaches that meet the needs of the tourism industry.




Disaster Resilient Outcomes for Rural New Zealand

Rural communities and value chains are vulnerable to a range of slow and rapid onset hazards, including climatic and geophysical hazards, and social, economic, cultural and political drivers which create a complex yet dynamic setting to build disaster resilience.

This project will co-produce and broker innovative solutions for enhancing the resilience of rural New Zealand. It will tailor tools, strategies and resources specifically for rural communities, businesses, and support systems.

Project lead: Dr Caroline Orchiston (University of Otago)


Rural Disaster Risk Decision-Making

A foundation of disaster risk management is understanding the hazards, the exposure and vulnerability of people and assets to those hazards. By quantifying the risks and anticipating the potential impacts of hazards, governments, industries, communities, and individuals can make informed decisions on resilience.  

This work stream will produce an integrated national framework for valuing, promoting, incentivising and assessing resilience across rural value chains, from households to regions and small to global-scale agribusinesses. 

Project lead: Prof Thomas Wilson (University of Canterbury)


Understanding our 21st century rural communities & industries for a disaster resilient NZ

This project aims to better understand the disaster risk and resilience of specific rural communities and industries, including rural Māori communities, Māori agribusiness and tourism interests in Nelson/Tasman, and other under-researched communities including temporary migrant communities in rural Aotearoa, and rural lifestyle block owners.

Project leads: Prof Tom Wilson (University of Canterbury), Dr Nick Cradock-Henry (Manaaki Whenua)


Disaster Resilient Rural New Zealand Co-creation

The Rural programme is dedicated to finding innovative solutions for enhancing the resilience of rural New Zealand, to better protect these integral and potentially vulnerable communities and enable them to thrive in the face of natural hazard risks.  Central to this approach will be using and extending the co-creation approaches successfully tried and tested during Phase 1.

Project leads: Rural – Dr Sarah Beaven (University of Canterbury); Taranaki – Prof Tom Wilson (University of Canterbury); AF8 – Dr Caroline Orchiston (Otago University);