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Raising iwi awareness of natural hazards in Te Tairāwhiti region

3 years ago by Kate Boersen and Mike Page

Meeting between Iwi GNS Science team and Tiku village womens collective

Learnings from Indonesian communities who have experienced severe earthquakes and tsunami are being used to help iwi in Te Tairāwhiti region better understand the natural hazards they face.

Researchers from Ngāti Porou/Ngāi Tāmanuhiri/GNS Science have just returned from a visit to the Agam District of Sumatra where they shared indigenous knowledge and experiences of natural hazards with local communities..

Indonesian communities encounter these hazards much more frequently than present day Te Tairāwhiti iwi who have yet to experience severe earthquakes, tsunamis or impacts associated with volcanic eruptions.

Researchers were interested in learning more how hazards and hazard awareness is incorporated into their culture through music, art and storytelling and comparing this to Maori culture.

Maori knowledge of natural hazards is contained within oral histories, traditions, place names, mōteatea. Much of this knowledge risks being lost because it lacks the immediacy of being incorporated into the present day culture.

The focus now is turning to spreading the knowledge and insights gained from the Indonesian visit and further compiling a database of hazards that have affected Te Tairāwhiti, alongside the Gisborne District Council.

The database combines western hazard science information and Mātauranga Māori to form an integrated knowledge resource of magnitude, frequency and impacts of natural hazards in each iwi’s rohe.

The one-year project is funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, through its Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund. The aim of the project is to raise iwi awareness, and foster a more iwi-centric approach, to natural hazard management.