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Lyceum 2021 | Together Towards Tomorrow

Like many Pacific Rim countries, New Zealand has high seismicity and is exposed to a range of geophysical and climatic hazards.

NZ is a long, narrow island chain with very little redundancy in its infrastructure networks, which service many remote communites. Recent earthquake disasters have galvinised the New Zealand government to improve our physical and social resilience to future events. Over the past decade, several so-called ‘boundary organisations’ have been established that bring together science, practice and policy to achieve the goal of improving public awareness and preparedness for future natural hazard events.

One of these organisations is known as AF8 [Alpine Fault magnitude 8], which aims to improve response capability for a future damaging plate boundary earthquake on the Alpine Fault, and to improve the risk literacy of our citizens and emergency response agencies to support improved community-led preparedness and response efforts. This presentation will reflect on the last five years of collective effort on AF8, and the positive outcomes that have contributed to mitigating disaster risk. Lessons learned from these efforts in NZ could be applied by other nations around the world with high exposure to natural hazards.



Caroline Orchiston
Associate Professor, Acting Director Centre for Sustainability, University of Otago


40 min

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Video transcript

(upbeat music)

(Caroline speaking in Maori)

My name’s Caroline Orchiston

I’m from the University of Otago in New Zealand.

And we are the second most southern university in the world.

It’s springtime in New Zealand.

We’re currently in a COVID lockdown,

so I’m talking to you from my home office.

So if any of my kids wander into the room,

you’ll understand why.

So I’m here today to talk about resilient communities

and how we need to move beyond

sort of past traditional approaches to building resilience,

and put people at the center

of disaster risk reduction efforts worldwide.

Why is this important?

Well, we’ve got growing exposure

to a range of geohazards and climatic hazards.

Around the world, populations are increasingly exposed

to these types of hazard events.

You can see some data here from Swiss Re

of the cost of a range of hazards

that have been taking place over the last 20 or 30 years.

These are spread across the globe.

What these images don’t show you

is the human dimension of loss,

the lives and the livelihoods, the human vulnerability,

and the long-term nature of recovery.

Daily we’re hearing of new stories

of the impact and consequences of hazard events.

These are growing in frequency and intensity,

particularly the climatic hazards

driven by increasing global carbon emissions

and the anthropogenic causes of climate change.

We go back again to the Swiss Re data set from 1970,

right through to today,

and you can see the insurance costs

mainly from climatic hazards,

but also these large, infrequent,

but high consequence earthquakes over time.

You can see the Canterbury earthquakes

that we experienced in New Zealand in 2010,

alongside the Japanese earthquake and tsunami,

and a number of other major earthquakes through time.

The costs are growing, this is the key point here.

Insurance costs are growing through time,

and we need to be aware of that

as we move towards building more resilient communities.

And the future is uncertain.

In many ways we have places which are affected

by compounding and cascading hazard events.

We’re seeing countries and regions

being hit by several hazards through time,

and the merging of what I would call

the emergency management cycle

of reduction and readiness, and response and recovery.

Many communities are having

to go through this cycle of events

much more quickly than it has done in the past

as one event is quickly followed by another.

On a brighter note,

we’ve made significant progress

in improving the resilience of our critical infrastructure

and learning from past experiences

to build resilience into our communities.

So resilient infrastructure, which of course,

many of you will be involved in

as engineers and geoscientists,

that’s an important part of the puzzle.

And we’ve used our engineering prowess, I suppose,

to improve the accessibility of communities,

the recovery of communities after the disasters.

Here’s an example from New Zealand

of a previously very vulnerable section of highway

connecting the eastern and western coastlines

of the South Island.

This is Arthur’s Pass, and you can see the very windy.

It wasn’t even sealed at this stage back a few decades ago,

winding its way through some very highly exposed

scree slopes.

And this was a very vulnerable landscape

through which many people

relied on transport infrastructure links,

and taking food and goods through

from east and western coast.

Over time, we’ve built resilience into this place

through the construction of a viaduct,

which has, you can see now we’re looking again

at these scree slopes coming down off the left of the slide.

You can see the viaduct down in the bottom

and just giving you a sense of scale of this environment.

It’s a particularly beautiful part of the southern alps

of the South Island, but very exposed.

And over time, we’ve improved the resilience here.

This viaduct is built to withstand

a magnitude eight earthquake.

And just below the section of road,

there’s some more wonderful engineering

to prevent rockfall across the highway.

We’ve got the highway actually clipped on here

with a waterfall cascading over the top,

and some more interesting engineering projects

that have been done in the last couple of decades.

Another example from recent times

was the Kaikoura earthquake, which we experienced in 2016

in the South Island of New Zealand.

It was a magnitude eight earthquake

has struck a very high terrain area

of the north-western part,

north-eastern part of the South Island.

And you can see here the highway and also the rail network,

this is our State Highway 1,

our most significant road in the country

being completely devastated by this landslide here

at Ohau Point.

It took 13 months and a huge amount of collaboration

across agencies to repair this section of road.

Here’s what it looks like now.

As you can see a lot of sluicing, blasting,

removal of loose material from above the highway.

It’s been raised up several meters

because actually this earthquake involved

uplift of the coast of several meters,

which I suppose you could say,

has built resilience into this highway,

just through avoiding a bit of sea level rise

over the coming years as well.

But an incredible amount of work that went in

from a team of engineers

and a collaborative multi-agency project here

to improve the access along our,

well to restore the access of State Highway 1.

The communities were isolated from the earthquake.

The township of Kaikoura was closed for a year.

It’s a very busy bustling tourist town,

which really struggled in the aftermath of this event.

Here’s another sample just to draw into focus

the fact that people must always be thought about

as being the center of any consideration of hazards.

This is an example from West Washington in the USA,

and we’ve had some projects over there

over the last 10 years or so.

And this particular community

sits in very low lying coastal area

within spitting distance of the Cascadia subduction zone.

So this subduction zone has the potential to generate

a magnitude nine earthquake and tsunami.

And the tsunami risk is particularly scary

for these communities.

So the principal of the school

shown in the middle of the picture,

on the right, upper right of the slide

acknowledged or learnt about the science

of the Cascadia subduction zone

and realized that her community was hugely vulnerable.

So she went to her school district,

she had the ballot passed on the fourth attempt

to build her school as a vertical evacuation refuge,

or vertical evacuation structure.

This was completed about three years ago.

It took a huge amount of community support.

This is a low socioeconomic community

and they self-funded most of this build.

They did manage to get some FEMA funding as well.

For the engineers out there,

just some interesting facts about this build,

there were 169 pilings that were built,

or driven 15 meters into the ground, that’s 50 feet down.

Rated to withstand a 9.2 magnitude earthquake,

which would be one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded,

and it has a six foot parapet around

the top of the building here to protect the kids

from any waves that might go over the top here.

But of course, this is well outside of the likely range

of a tsunami wave that would affect this community.

It would also hold 2000 people from the local district

if they could get there on foot,

so that 2000 people are within walking distance

of the structure,

and it can be accessed by four staircases

in each corner of the building.

So a very impressive piece of community-led resilience work

being done here with support from USDS

and the local emergency management,

the state emergency management people as well.

So a really positive story here of community-led resilience.

I think the other thing that we need to talk about

and acknowledge is that the value of indigenous knowledge,

and so respecting different types of knowledge,

whether it be indigenous local community knowledge

or western science knowledge,

all parts of those are really valid and important

in any discussion of hazards.

This is Ruaumoko, who is the Atua,

or the God of earthquakes and volcanoes in Maori culture.

Native Americans have similar understandings

of the natural environment,

and in fact, the Native Americans

were affected by the 1700 AD

Cascadia magnitude nine earthquake.

Their community was wiped out by that event.

And there are lots of oral traditions of those events

going back in time.

In New Zealand, Maori are really at the forefront now

of leading the response to many of our events

that happen these days in New Zealand.

So this is what’s called a marae, or a meeting house.

This is in Kaikoura, where the earthquake happened in 2016.

And the Iwi, the local Maori,

they hosted 1200 people in this marae, tourists mainly,

who were stranded in the town,

and they effectively housed and gave them welfare

until they were airlifted out of this township.

And so indigenous knowledge,

indigenous resources are really important

in any discussion around disaster risk reduction.

In Christchurch in 2011,

of course, we had a very devastating earthquake.

It basically destroyed the central city of Christchurch.

Here is a building that catastrophically collapsed,

and we had two of these buildings that killed 130 people

out of the total casualties of 185 deaths.

So most of our buildings in New Zealand

and in Christchurch at the time

actually performed very well.

We have very good building codes in New Zealand.

We have a very high insurance rate in the city.

It was one of the biggest insured earthquake events

ever recorded in the world.

And so New Zealand was in a good position

to invest in recovery following this event.

Of course, in contrast, in that same year,

the Haiti earthquake occurred

in what is a very vulnerable population of people

with very poorly constructed buildings.

It led to 300,000 deaths, and now more tragedy

from the compounding earthquake and hurricane,

which are affecting this country as we speak.

The government in Haiti, of course,

is not able to support its people through recovery.

The lesson here is that we need to work as a global society

to improve resilience,

to support nations that aren’t able to support themselves,

and learn those critical lessons about building resilience,

infrastructure resilience and community resilience

in different contexts around the world.

So I’d like to now move to an example in New Zealand

of some work we’ve been doing

to build collective resilience in communities

around the South Island.

We’ve been working to find novel ways

to integrate research policy and practice

using a very collaborative design

with lots of good science communication,

and visualizations of hazards

in the South Island of New Zealand

to try and build our collective resilience to future events.

But before I launch into AF8,

which is the example I’m going to be talking about,

I’d like to give you a bit more context

around the New Zealand hazardscape, I suppose,

the landscape, the tectonic environment of New Zealand.

And of course, we sit down here in the south-west Pacific,

right on the Pacific Ring of Fire.

So we are transected by the interface

between the Pacific and Australian Plates.

Like many of our neighbors around the Pacific,

and I’m sure I’m speaking to many of you now from America,

from South America, from Canada, Japan,

and through South-East Asia,

we all live with the risks presented by the Pacific Ring.

This is a very active and an exciting environment

if you’re a geoscientist or an engineer,

and now we move into a slide illustrating that

by sort of cutting New Zealand into a block model,

slicing it down the middle

to show you what’s happening beneath the surface here

of this plate interface.

So we have a subduction zone up off the north-east coast

in the upper right-hand corner of the slide.

That subduction zone is quite mature,

and it’s producing volcanic activity

through the central North Island of New Zealand.

Off the south-west coast, we have another subduction zone,

but this time the Australian Plate

is subducting under the Pacific Plate.

And in between the two, we have a transform fault

linking these two major tectonic structures.

So this is a very active environment

for earthquakes in New Zealand,

and this is the 2010 version

of our national seismic hazard model.

And you can see the red and orange colors

really pointing to the plate boundary

as it makes its way through New Zealand.

This is interesting because our hazard model from 2010

shows these obviously reds and orange colors

right on the plate boundary interface.

But as you move away from that,

you can see the colors lightening up

into the kind of greens and blues,

illustrating, I suppose, to the untrained eye,

a relatively low seismic hazard

in that eastern side of the South Island

and the upper part of the North Island.

So Christchurch and Dunedin, I’m down in Dunedin,

which is right off the eastern coast down here,

both of those cities were considered to be lower,

relatively low seismic hazard

at the time of the February earthquake in 2011.

So our model of seismic hazard is being updated right now.

And I can tell you, they won’t be using

that low seismic hazard zone terminology,

I doubt very much in the next iteration of this,

because it really did create a sense

that these parts of New Zealand

were less likely to be affected by a future earthquake.

Anyway, so that’s the setup.

And now I’m going to show you where the Alpine Fault is,

and this is zooming down

onto the South Island of New Zealand.

Now the Alpine Fault comes off the south-west coast

of the South Island at Milford Sound,

and it makes its way up the western side

of the Southern Alps, or the high alps of the South Island,

before reaching the Springs Junction

where it branches off into a number of other faults

and links through into that subduction zone

off the north-east coast.

So this is the Alpine Fault.

It’s about 650 kilometers long.

And essentially what’s happening

across this section of the plate boundary

is that you’ve got the Pacific Plate coming in

slightly obliquely to the Alpine Fault.

So this is largely speaking,

a left sort of a, pardon me,

a right lateral strike slip fault,

but there is this component of compression.

So we’ve got a squeezing together

across the central South Island,

and an uplift of the Southern Alps,

which are beautiful high alps

that go right down the spine of the South Island.

And essentially what’s happening over time

is that energy is building across the plate boundary.

But we don’t experience earthquakes as often as,

there aren’t many small earthquakes along the Alpine Fault.

What we find is that this energy is building up,

and it’s released in large earthquakes over time.

And we have some, a pretty good understanding

of the past behavior of the Alpine Fault.

And so up until about 2010,

we knew of three past earthquakes.

Now this chart is slightly complex,

so I’ll talk you through it.

In the top right hand corner of the slide,

you can see a little red dot,

that’s the present day, that’s now.

And then as we move towards the left of the slide,

we’re going back in time, 8,000 years back in time.

And so those three little black histograms

are showing the events that we knew about in the past

from a range of different paleoseismic sources

of information and data.

Up until about 2010, that’s what we knew.

Then a team of scientists went to a location

at the southern end of the Alpine Fault,

and they made what was an incredible discovery.

So they went to a creek,

and they discovered a sequence of sedimentary deposits.

And you can see an image of those now

with some radiocarbon dates.

Now these stripes of sediment

are illustrating the landscape response

following major earthquakes.

And so on the Alpine Fault, when the ground shakes,

we get a landscape response,

which means a lot of landslides

are happening up in the Alps,

and a lot of sediment comes down through the river systems.

And so here,

we’ve captured sediment from the Alpine Fault earthquake,

and essentially what that told us was

that we had a lot more earthquakes

than we knew about previously,

so much so that the dataset

now extends back over 8,000 years,

and includes 27 earthquakes on the Alpine Fault.

You can see the first thing I think is pretty striking

is that these earthquakes are happening regularly

through time.

There’s almost like a rhythm

to the way the Alpine Fault behaves.

It’s storing up seismic energy, and then releasing it.

And if you do the maths on this dataset,

that comes out just under 300 years on average,

the recurrence interval

between major events on the Alpine Fault.

More recently, we’ve had some additions to the science

that have come along.

So we have new data from lakes

up along the central section of the Alpine Fault

shown here in yellow.

And so these four lakes similarly have sediment captured

in the base of those lakes,

and my colleague, Jamie Howarth and his team

have worked out on the lakes,

and here he is collecting data.

So he’s basically extracting cores

from the bottom of these Alpine lakes.

This is what they look like.

So you can see the stripes of sediment,

much like we saw in the river,

the creek bed that I showed you previously,

these stripes of sediment,

which are able to be radiocarbon dated

and produce a range of dates going back through time,

which really corroborated what we already knew

about the way the Alpine Fault was behaving.

So we knew of this number of earthquakes

going back through time.

So the key messages, and these are the messages

that we talk to communities about.

And we present these to the community

is that the Alpine Fault

has a long history of large earthquakes.

It’s remarkably regular through time,

and there really is no reason

why they should stop happening,

that it will continue in future.

The average recurrence interval is approximately 300 years,

with the last significant earthquake in 1717 AD.

The new science that was just released

has really updated or upgraded

the probability of the next earthquake

from what we’ve previously knew

of about 29% likelihood in the next 50 years.

That’s been upgraded to 75% probability in the next 50 years

of a major earthquake on the Alpine Fault.

And an 82% chance that this rupture,

or this earthquake will be a magnitude eight plus event.

So this sort of science, I think,

really is very compelling

in terms of the picture or the story

of why we need to be concerned about the Alpine Fault.

And so that really led to this collaboration

coming together in 2016.

So AF8 stands for Alpine Fault magnitude eight.

It was funded by our National Emergency Management Agency,

in collaboration with emergency management groups

around the South Island,

and a number of other partner agencies,

which I’ll mention in a moment.

And the goal of this event was, of this program rather,

was to bring together the science modeling that we had

off the shelf.

We knew a lot about the science of the Alpine Fault

at the time,

to develop a response plan for the first seven days

after the earthquake happens.

So it was really about how do we coordinate and prioritize

response actions in the first week

after an event of this scale,

which will affect large parts of the South Island?

The other part of AF8

was really about engaging the community,

talking to the people who live in these landscapes

and in these communities,

to help them understand the risks that are posed

by the Alpine Fault

and to help them get better prepared

for a future earthquake.

So this is, it’s not a unique project by any means,

but one of the benefits of AF8

was that it really was nested nicely

between these traditional domains

of research policy and practice.

You can see on the image,

the AF8 program has really nested nicely

between these traditional domains.

And that was one of the really important benefits

of the work that we were trying to achieve.

It was building on a very strong science foundation,

drawing on the policy and the practice.

People working in policy and practice

to inform the work that we were doing in AF8,

and it became a really exciting collaboration

which managed to get quite a lot done.

I find it useful to think about the boundary

between these traditional domains, I suppose,

of policy and science

as having very different and very contrasting needs.

But the fact that we needed to find a way

to draw these two parts of the puzzle together, I suppose.

So in the science domain, scientists require credibility.

We had to do credible science,

we need quality assurance through peer review.

And at the other end of the policy domain

requires relevance.

It’s got to be done quickly, it needs timely input-

And oops, excuse me.

Let me just click to the next part of this.

And it need simple information to inform policy,

but it has to be underpinned by strong science.

So scientists, we are dealing with uncertainty

and complex information,

and that takes time to produce the science products

that we need.

So we have these two sort of ends of a spectrum,

I suppose you could say,

that have very different needs and timeframes, I suppose.

In the middle is the hybrid zone.

This is where AF8 is quite nicely nested,

because it’s drawing on the science and the policy.

It requires legitimacy,

but it also requires the balance

between these two ends of the spectrum.

There’s compromise, there’s inclusion,

and there’s a lot of transparency

in the work that these sorts of boundary organizations

are trying to achieve.

So the first two years of AF8’s work

were putting together the SAFER Framework,

SAFER stands for the South Island Alpine Fault

Earthquake Response Framework.

And as I mentioned, this was really targeting

that first seven days after the disaster.

So it was a document that would inform

the coordination and the prioritization

of response activities over that first seven days.

Now this document’s been really, really powerful.

It has led to a number of major achievements,

including establishing a number of specific planning roles,

excuse me, planning roles in our house sector,

in our fire and police and other agencies

who have really worked to prioritize AF8 planning.

Based on this document and the work that AF8’s been doing,

they’ve actually employed staff to spend time

to work through this document

and make it relevant to their specific agency

so that they’re in a better position

to respond and to work in collaboration with others

when this event happens.

So one of the really important things from AF8

was having science products

that would help engage the public

on the science of the Alpine Fault.

We were very fortunate that my colleague, Brendon Bradley,

at the University of Canterbury

had just finished producing this animation

of a scenario earthquake for the Alpine Fault.

And he can see the Alpine Fault earthquake

beginning down in Milford Sound,

and the seismic energy starting to radiate out

from the epicenter.

And these seismic waves start to build in intensity

as the earthquake propagates up to the north-east

along the Alpine Fault.

You can see some of the seismic waves heading eastward

out towards the coast

and in the southern part of the South Island.

And this was an incredibly powerful

piece of science communication

that really helped us to draw people into the conversation

about the Alpine Fault.

You can see now as the seismic energy is moving

up into the northern part of the South Island,

and eastward out into what we call the Canterbury Plains,

which are deep sedimentary basins,

where the, you can see the seismic energy

is really reverberating

around in that deep sedimentary basin.

Whereas through the high alps

with a solid basement underneath it,

there’s less of that sort of a reverberation

of seismic energy.

So the other thing to note on this

is of course the time ticking away

in the upper right-hand corner,

and you can see this is a long earthquake.

This is going to go on for minutes,

and that was the other thing I think

that really drew people into this story

was the fact that it’s not going to happen

with just a few tens of seconds of ground motion.

This is something that’s going to roll out for minutes,

and it’s a big, long fault.

So it starts somewhere and it has to work its way

right along the fault zone,

and that all takes time to happen.

So this was a single scenario

that we use to inform the development of the SAFER Framework

and all of the engagement that we did with communities.

This is an intensity model for that earthquake scenario,

where the earthquake’s beginning down in Milford Sound,

you can see the epicenter that is in white there,

and the intensity or the footprint of damage

that’s experienced across the South Island.

And the first thing to note

is that this is a South Island wide event.

While there are some parts of the island in this scenario

that are less likely less damaged, will be less damaged,

of course they will, for example,

where I live in area of which has intensity four or five

in the southern south-eastern part of the South Island,

we might still be affected by disruption

through the electricity network being damaged,

and there might be blackouts

across large parts of the island

and other types of indirect consequences.

So this is a South Island wide earthquake,

and I think again,

that really drew people into the story

of us all being in this together as South Islanders.

So we did some modeling to understand

the potential impacts and consequences of the ground motions

generated by the scenario earthquake.

And so this is the State Highway Network

with peak ground velocities.

And you can see many of our highways do very well,

but the ones that are worst affected

are those around the Southern Alps

and on the western side of the Alpine Fault.

And you can see these orange and yellow colors

showing very high ground velocities,

which will cause significant damage to the highway network.

We did a similar analysis for the bridges,

and of course, west of the Southern Alps,

we have a lot of rivers.

It’s a very high rainfall area

’cause we have a lot of western weather

that comes across the Tasman Sea,

strikes the natural barrier of the South Island

and dumps a lot of rain.

And so there are lots of big rivers

that go down to the western side of the alps,

and many bridges as a consequence,

so many of our communities on the west coast

are linked by bridges.

They’re the lifeblood of the community.

If the bridge goes down,

then people can’t travel up and down

the long narrow coastal strip of the west coast.

We also did an analysis on the likely landslide distribution

across the Southern Alps.

And of course, when you shake mountains,

there are going to be landslides very pervasively

across that high topography.

And so you can see that distribution, right,

a lot of landslides happening

around 10 kilometers either side

of the Alpine Fault rupture itself.

And then we can overlay the landslide model with,

for example here, the State Highway Network,

and you can see the pinchpoints

where landslides are likely to cross the highway

and cause additional disruption.

So not only from ground motions,

but from landslides crossing the road.

And you can see Arthur’s Pass,

which I showed you in the early slides.

This is the road that links

the eastern and western coastlines.

You can see that’s a real pinchpoint

because of that really unstable terrain

around the valleys, or the Pass

that goes across the alps there.

And the highway that essentially is crisscrossed

right down the west coast,

particularly around Franz Josef and Fox Glacier, sorry,

another really important tourism destination for New Zealand

is severely effected by rupture and landslides

across the Alpine Fault zone there and the highway.

And we did a analysis of the likely timeframes

for restoration of the network.

Now, this was a essentially a qualitative piece of work

involving community leaders,

but also key people from agencies

like the New Zealand Transport Agency

and the electricity network people as well.

And so this was essentially trying to understand their views

on how long it might take to restore the roads.

You can see timestamps going from day one

after the earthquake,

where many of these roads are in red

and therefore have no access.

And as time goes along

through the weeks and months following this event,

you can see even after six months,

the red highway through Arthur’s Pass down the west coast,

and the next pass, the Haast Pass,

which also connects the eastern and western parts

of the South Island,

again with no access well beyond the six month part phase

of this event.

So these communities in the southern and western parts

of the South Island will be isolated by road

for many, many months after an event like this.

And that’s cause for concern.

So another piece of work that was undertaken

by the University of Auckland,

and my colleague Liam Wotherspoon,

involved looking at the network interdependencies

across all of our horizontal infrastructure in New Zealand.

So this is, these are the networks

that they considered in this analysis.

And then they modeled their cumulative disruption

and recovery of those networks.

And so understanding the interdependencies

between these networks, for example,

the, if electricity goes down,

then communication is going to be affected,

and we won’t be able to pump the fuel at fuel stations,

those sorts of things.

Understanding those interdependencies

showed that across the whole island,

there would be disruption.

The only reason the very south-west corner

of the South Island has none

is because no one lives there.

That’s a great big national park

with no infrastructure in it.

The rest of the island is affected

by some degree of disruption for the first week at least,

and then we see from the months

and into the six months after this event,

lingering disruption from these interdependencies

as time goes on and into six months and beyond,

we can still see the west coast and the upper South Island

is experiencing some sort of disruption through time.

So how do we take all of that?

How do we work with communities to raise their awareness

and build preparedness

so that when this event happens in future,

this inevitable event,

they’re in a better position as communities

to look after themselves.

Our agencies are aware of the connections and collaborations

that they will be working with

during the response and into the recovery

following an event like this.

How do we do that effectively?

And I think one of the big parts of AF8’s work

has been that outreaching and engaging on the science.

We’ve teamed up

with a number of other regional hazard initiatives

across New Zealand.

So AF8’s terrain, or I guess it’s a field area

is the South Island,

but in the North Island of New Zealand,

we are exposed to a range of other hazards, of course.

We have volcanic hazards,

so the ECLIPSE program and the DEVORA program

are focused on volcanic risk.

What’s called East Coast Lab or Life at the Boundary

is a coastal hazards earthquake tsunami initiative.

And so we’ve worked across these public initiatives

to do better in terms of public education and engagement.

And so some of the initiatives,

I’ll give you a taste of what those look like.

This for example, was an initiative that kicked off in 2020.

We were meant to be out on our roadshow at this stage,

but we really had to pivot to COVID,

and we shifted onto digital platforms

to do a lot of our engagement.

And so what AF8 believes

is that we need to be listening to our audiences

and being responsive to the questions that they might have

about these types of hazards.

And so we called it A Lot on our Plates,

plates obviously referring to the plate boundary

that we sit on,

but also, you know, a lot on our plates,

sort of a nice play on words there.

So listening to our audiences,

asking them questions and getting their feedback.

And this event was a live Q&A with scientists.

We had hundreds of people on the call

and they were asking questions

and getting answers from the scientists directly,

which was really exciting to be part of.

Here’s another snapshot from our social media campaign,

trying to help people understand

what that plate boundary really does involve.

So we’ve got the red line off the coast there

of the Hikurangi subduction zone.

We’ve got the Alpine Fault,

and we have this transition zone in between

where Wellington, our capital city is sitting,

and exposed to a range of earthquake sources.

So again, just an opportunity for people to ask questions

and have answers posted almost immediately from scientists.

And we have a team of about 30 Alpine Fault specialists

who help us work on these sorts of engagement activities.

So we ask people who have the expertise

to respond to these questions.

Just trying to break down some of the things

that confuse people, I suppose,

the difference, for example,

between magnitude and intensity.

Just putting out some really clear and simple communication,

again, on social media platforms

to help people understand these things

and answer questions again as quickly as we can.

The AF8 Roadshow, this was the 2019 campaign,

and we took it to 12 communities

in the highest risk areas of the South Island.

What the roadshow involves is a community public meeting

and a number of schools visits.

So we have a schools program that we run.

This is the schedule that we did in this year, in 2021.

We went to an additional 14 communities.

So all up, we’ve reached 26 communities

around the South Island.

We take scientists on the road,

they do, they present their science at the public events,

and we have a educator who goes into the schools

to help children understand earthquakes,

but also what about how we can get better prepared

in our communities for this kind of an event.

And here’s an image there of the school’s work.

We have a beautiful block model of the South Island,

which we project down onto

in terms of putting the intensity model

and other things down onto that map

so that the kids can learn about the geography

of the South Island.

And the public events have been really well attended.

We’ve had hundreds of people come out

from these very small communities

and pack out their little community halls

to hear about the science of the Alpine Fault.

So, I just want to wrap up now with some final thoughts.

Of course, it’s a big, big challenge that we’re faced with

in terms of building, reducing risk,

and building resilience.

And as engineers, I know that your focus

is on doing the very best you can

to build strong infrastructure

and to improve the way that we do things in that respect.

Just, I guess, a few things to think about

in terms of understanding how we can do the best that we can

to do this job.

I think the importance

of trusted credible science and risk reduction

can’t be underestimated.

I think scientists as well, you know,

you need to get people who can talk in an engaging way

about their science, make it interesting,

show their passion for their science.

I think that really does make a difference

in terms of engaging agencies, ministries, embassies,

and communities about the sort of stuff.

You need to get the right sorts of scientists

in front of those sorts of public groups.

You know, science gives credibility.

It increases trust.

It’s required to inform decision-making,

and it’s incredibly important for engaging with the public.

Secondly, we have to learn from our experiences

from past disasters

to help us incrementally build societal resilience.

After the Canterbury earthquakes,

New Zealand made significant investments in science.

We’ve got two major science programs

that are focused on earthquake resilience in New Zealand,

and those are helping

to embed some of those lessons learned.

We are updating our building code.

We have rapid policy change that’s happened

as a consequence of recent earthquakes where we’ve,

for example, protecting life safety

by removing parapets from heritage buildings

or tying those back, and removing facades, et cetera,

and sort of tying back facades

so that we improve life safety.

So we have to learn,

we have to incrementally build societal resilience.

We have to invest in resilience and resilient infrastructure

before the next disaster,

which we know helps save money in the long-term.

If we invest early,

we have better outcomes after a disaster.

And similarly, we need to prepare our communities

before an event,

and that will help them recover

and respond to an event as well.

Thirdly, we need to work really hard

at communicating our science effectively.

Now we saw the visual of the earthquake

on the Alpine Fault earlier,

this is a screenshot taken from ABC International,

which was an Australian media company

who reported on the Alpine Fault this year in June.

They took that animation, they put it into a story map.

It got a huge amount of interest from the Australian public,

and we did a number of interviews.

So that image has really improved our reach

across not only New Zealand,

but into other parts of the world.

What it does is it helps people take people on the journey

and helps people make the decision

that they are going to take action,

that they are going to get better prepared

for themselves as individuals,

and hopefully to help their communities

get better prepared as well.

So science communication through these visual,

these engaging science communication tools

is really important part of this as well.

Interdisciplinarity and collaboration

is really important here.

I’d challenge you as engineers or geoscientists

to look around the table for your projects

and ask the question,

do we have a diverse enough group here?

Do we have women in our group?

Do we have people from other countries?

Do we have different ethnicities

represented in our project teams?

Because it makes a difference.

You know, when you have diverse views

on a challenging topic,

it makes a difference to have those voices around the table.

Not only that, we need engineers

to be working with communication designers,

we need communication designers

to be working with risk communication specialists.

We need social scientists involved

in science projects and engineering projects.

We all need to get around the table.

In New Zealand, we’re very fortunate.

We’ve got some quite large research programs,

which are really driving

the interdisciplinarity of our science in this domain,

and we’re very fortunate

to be able to do that in New Zealand.

And I’d encourage others around the world

to try and do the same.

And knowledge is power.

Globally, our communities are going to continue

to face uncertainty.

They need to be part of the conversation to find solutions.

It’s not good enough for us just to deliver science

to these communities anymore.

It’s not what they want.

They want to be of the conversation early,

and to get involved

and to get a sense of agency for themselves

in terms of the direction that their future is going to take.

And the example here is manage retreat.

That’s the terminology that we use in New Zealand

for a climate and a sea level rise hazard

where many of our communities are coastal,

and many of those are going to be threatened in the next,

the coming decades,

do we just tell them they have to leave their community?

That’s not going to work.

People are very tied to place.

They have a strong sense of place and community,

and they’re not going to want to be uplifted

without having some input on that decision.

And so these sorts of communities,

they need to be part of the conversation.

They need the knowledge to help inform that,

and so I’d encourage anyone doing these sorts of projects

to try and get out early in their timeframes

to talk to communities, get them involved early,

get some representation

so that they can be part of their conversation as well.

And finally, just a final slide showing some of our AF8 team

actually standing on the Alpine Fault.

This is the best exposure of the Alpine Fault

in south Westland at Gaunt Creek.

It was a really amazing journey for us

to go there as a team.

It was almost like a pilgrimage,

and an exciting day of being right on the plate boundary.

But really this picture is telling us

that it’s all about the people, the people on the team,

the people exposed to the risk presented by this hazard.

And I’d like to finish on a Maori proverb,

which speaks very much to this human dimension

of hazards and risks.

(Caroline speaking in Maori)

What is the most important thing in the world?

(Caroline speaking in Maori)

It is the people.

It is the people, it is the people.

Kia ora, thank you very much for listening.

(upbeat music)