“Wellington After the ‘Quake”

In 1995, the Diva had the privilege of participating in a conference in Wellington, NZ that examined the ramifications of recovery from a significant earthquake in that area. An excellent edited proceedings was produced.

In recent years a scanned, pdf copy was made available.  I have linked a copy of that 300 page report here: wellington-after-the-quake

I would like to hear from those interested in earthquake history about whether this effort made 21 years ago has proved useful to current emergency managers.

The Realities of Recovery

Most of us tend to underestimate the difficulties and duration of the recovery after a major disaster.  Here are some details about the Christchurch experience:

‘Long way to go’: Christchurch fights to emerge from shadow of 2011 earthquake
Five years on, Christchurch pauses to remember the 185 people who died, as questions endure over what will become of the battered garden city.


Thanks to Franklin McDonald for the citation. ( You have to love the Internet which allows a Canadian reader to send an American blogger a useful article from a British publication on a NZ topic! )


The Role of Civil Society Post Disaster – two views

Once again I draw on the experience in Christchurch NZ, still recovering from earthquake five or so years ago, to start a discussion of the role of citizens and non-governmental organizations after a major disaster i.e., civil society.

From an Australian news source and writer, this article about the recovery in Christchurch, NZ: Comment: Christchurch five years on – have politicians helped or hindered the earthquake recovery?

Since I wanted the perspective of a native Kiwi, who in fact was involved in assessing the response to the CHCH earthquakes, I asked Ian McLean to comment.  He said:

It is unfortunately a partisan viewpoint. One factual error was to call the Ministerial powers ‘unprecedented’. The powers provided by special legislation after the Napier 1931 EQ were in some respects even wider.

There was considerable political debate over the appointment of commissioners to control Environment Canterbury. The issue was whether or not it had done its legal duty of developing a Regional Water Plan. The only linkage to the earthquake was that cooperation between some local authorities in civil defence emergency management before the 2010 event was poor – as you know.

On the other hand, the role of civic society in response and recovery is vastly underestimated, as the article points out.

At the same time it was far beyond the capacity of any local organisation to lead, plan and direct (where necessary) the response and recovery. Something like CERA was essential because neither central nor local government nor the community, had the organisation to do what is needed. The extent to which CERA adequately involved the local community remains an issue worthy of examination and debate.


Articles on Recovery from NZ Journal

From the Royal Society of NZ, a set of new papers on recovery in this Special Issue on Recovery.  Guest editors: Bruce Glavovic, David Johnston and Ruth McManus. The new issue contains the following articles:

  • Contested meanings of recovery: a critical exploration of the Canterbury earthquakes–voices from the social sciences;
  • Ngā Mōwaho: an analysis of Māori responses to the Christchurch earthquakes;
  • Clergy views on their role in city resilience: lessons from the Canterbury earthquakes;
  • Children with disabilities and disaster preparedness: a case study of Christchurch;
  • Disaster impact and recovery: what children and young people can tell us;
  • Rolling with the shakes: an insight into teenagers’ perceptions of recovery after the Canterbury earthquakes;
  • Resilience? Contested meanings and experiences in post-disaster Christchurch, New Zealand;
  • Voices from the margins of recovery: relocated Cantabrians in Waikato ;
  • Use of domestic craft for meaning-making post-disaster; and
  • ‘The confidence to know I can survive’: resilience and recovery in post-quake Christchurch.


Many thanks to John Coleman of NZ for these citations.

Seismic Risk in NZ May Be Greater Than Thought

New Zealand’s worst earthquake fear confirmed by sediment survey.

New Zealand’s worst earthquake fears might be a real possibility. The first geological evidence of a huge megathrust earthquake crossing fault boundaries there is giving credence to worst case scenarios of a potential magnitude 8.9 quake.

More about this study is on the website of the NZ GNS.


Thanks to Franklin McDonald for the citation to the article and to  Ian McLean for the NZ organizational link.

Some News from Down Under re Earthquake Planning

Blog reader John Coleman in NZ wrote:

“I am currently working on emergency plans for the health system of the West Coast of the South Island. My personal thinking was that the entire population could be cut odd from all land access for many months and it is heartening to see tht his study suggests that there may be one road which could remain open. It follows the Buller Gorge and is the really long way around. URL for more info.

In addition we have recently had a series of presentations from the researchers at GNS and several universities. * * * The full package is about 14MB, so those who want the full details of the  video presentations please contact John directly at the location noted below.

We also have video recordings of the talks:
In 2013, Dr Robinson developed a scenario for a South Island Civil Defence exercise based on a major earthquake on the South Island fault and we have found the casualty estimates informative.

While all of this focusses on the South Island fault, the way things are looking in Christchurch, that big fault sould rupture before we have fully recovered from out local ones. I note that the temporary container mall in Christchurch could now be around a lot longer.  We do have a fondness for temporary things.

The shaking intensity may be similar, but the duration could be several times longer. No-one has tried to predict the effects of that yet.

For more information about John’s organization, go to this web site: http://www.cdhb.health.nz