Initial demographic and economic changes for Maori in a post-disaster landscape
The city of Ōtautahi/Christchurch experienced a series of earthquakes that began on September 4th, 2010. The most damaging event occurred on February 22nd, 2011 but significant earthquakes also occurred on June 13th and December 23rd with aftershocks still occurring well into 2012. The resulting disaster is the second deadliest natural disaster in New Zealand’s history with 185 deaths. During 2011 the Canterbury earthquakes were one of the costliest disasters worldwide with an expected cost of up to $NZ30 billion. Hundreds of commercial buildings and thousands of houses have been destroyed or are to be demolished and extensive repairs are needed for infrastructure to over 100,000 homes. As many as 8,900 people simply abandoned their homes and left the city in the first few months after the February event (Newell, 2012), and as many as 50,000 may leave during 2012. In particular, young whānau and single young women comprised a disproportionate number of these migrants, with evidence of a general movement to the North Island. Te Puni Kōkiri sought a mix of quantitative and qualitative research to examine the social and economic impacts of the Christchurch earthquakes on Māori and their whānau. The result of this work will be a collection of evidence to inform policy to support and assist Māori and their whānau during the recovery/rebuild phases. To that end, this report triangulates available statistical and geographical information with qualitative data gathered over 2010 and 2011 by a series of interviews conducted with Māori who experienced the dramatic events associated with the earthquakes. A Māori research team at Lincoln University was commissioned to undertake the research as they were already engaged in transdisciplinary research (began in the May 2010), that focused on quickly gathering data from a range of Māori who experienced the disaster, including relevant economic, environmental, social and cultural factors in the response and recovery of Māori to these events. Participants for the qualitative research were drawn from Māori whānau who both stayed and left the city. Further data was available from ongoing projects and networks that the Lincoln research team was already involved in, including interviews with Māori first responders and managers operating in the CBD on the day of the February event. Some limited data is also available from younger members of affected whānau. Māori in Ōtautahi/Christchurch City have exhibited their own culturally-attuned collective responses to the disaster. However, it is difficult to ascertain Māori demographic changes due to a lack of robust statistical frameworks but Māori outward migration from the city is estimated to range between 560 and 1,100 people. The mobility displayed by Māori demonstrates an important but unquantified response by whānau to this disaster, with emigration to Australia presenting an attractive option for young Māori, an entrenched phenomenon that correlates to cyclical downturns and the long-term decline of the New Zealand economy. It is estimated that at least 315 Māori have emigrated from the Canterbury region to Australia post-quake, although the disaster itself may be only one of a series of events that has prompted such a decision. Māori children made up more than one in four of the net loss of children aged 6 to 15 years enrolled in schools in Greater Christchurch over the year to June 2011. Research literature identifies depression affecting a small but significant number of children one to two years post-disaster and points to increasing clinical and organisational demands for Māori and other residents of the city. For those residents in the eastern or coastal suburbs – home to many of the city’s Māori population - severe damage to housing, schools, shops, infrastructure, and streets has meant disruption to their lives, children’s schooling, employment, and community functioning. Ongoing abandonment of homes by many has meant a growing sense of unease and loss of security, exacerbated by arson, burglaries, increased drinking, a stalled local and national economy, and general confusion about the city’s future. Māori cultural resilience has enabled a considerable network of people, institutions, and resources being available to Māori , most noticeably through marae and their integral roles of housing, as a coordinating hub, and their arguing for the wider affected communities of Christchurch. Relevant disaster responses need to be discussed within whānau, kōhanga, kura, businesses, communities, and wider neighbourhoods. Comprehensive disaster management plans need to be drafted for all iwi in collaboration with central government, regional, and city or town councils. Overall, Māori are remarkably philosophical about the effects of the disaster, with many proudly relishing their roles in what is clearly a historic event of great significance to the city and country. Most believe that ‘being Māori’ has helped cope with the disaster, although for some this draws on a collective history of poverty and marginalisation, features that contribute to the vulnerability of Māori to such events. While the recovery and rebuild phases offer considerable options for Māori and iwi, with Ngāi Tahu set to play an important stakeholder in infrastructural, residential, and commercial developments, some risk and considerable unknowns are evident. Considerable numbers of Māori may migrate into the Canterbury region for employment in the rebuild, and trades training strategies have already been established. With many iwi now increasingly investing in property, the risks from significant earthquakes are now more transparent, not least to insurers and the reinsurance sector. Iwi authorities need to be appraised of insurance issues and ensure sufficient coverage exists and investments and developments are undertaken with a clear understanding of the risks from natural hazards and exposure to future disasters.... [Show full abstract]
Fields of Research1205 Urban and Regional Planning; 169904 Studies of Māori Society; 120501 Community Planning; 1605 Policy and Administration
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