A series of six weekly lectures starting 17 July
The last two years brought the unpredictable nature of New Zealand’s natural and man-made hazards to the fore. Christchurch’s major earthquake and its devastating aftershocks, the Pike River mine disaster, the Rena oil spill, heavy rain and snow falls, tornadoes and other unexpected events overstretched the country’s infrastructure, caused loss of life and livelihood, and tested the strength and resilience of everyday New Zealanders. This series of lectures explores New Zealand’s disasters - the risks we face and the responses we make to those risks. Experts and scholars from, or connected with, The University of Auckland will share their knowledge and skills on a selection of topics from geology and engineering to media and education.
• Lecture 1, Tuesday 17 July
Professor Saville Kushner, Faculty of Education: Disaster and democracy: a global perspective.
Much ridicule was once made of the fact that aid packs handed out in third world emergencies and disasters contained a toothbrush and paste. The ridicule was misplaced. Nothing is trivial in the wake of tsunamis, earthquakes or holocausts. You might cling to a toothbrush as a cherished vision of what might be regained. How do we measure value and significance in these situations?
More broadly, it has been said that “nowhere is democracy under greater threat than in the unstable context of disasters and emergencies”. Here is where political, social and physical infrastructures are all stretched – often to breaking point.
• Lecture 2, Tuesday 24 July
Clive Manley, Auckland Council: Risk and response in Auckland.
The national strategy for civil defence and emergency management is for a resilient New Zealand. Auckland has a third of New Zealand's population, yet how prepared are we to respond to and recover from a major disaster? What is being done to build the resilience which will be needed in Auckland? What have we learnt from Christchurch?
• Lecture 3, Tuesday 31 July (Panel discussion: Understanding the risks - tsunami, floods, earthquakes and volcanoes)
- Associate Professor Asaad Shamseldin, Faculty of Engineering: Tsunami hazard and mitigation in New Zealand.
New Zealand with its long coastline and its location in the Pacific ring of fire is vulnerable to tsunami damage. Recent research indicates the risks of structure damage from tsunamis in New Zealand are no less significant than those associated with earthquakes. This lecture will provide a historical review of tsunamis in New Zealand and other parts of the world. It will also discuss the current research activities at The University of Auckland aiming at providing a better scientific understanding of the interaction of tsunami with infrastructure.
- Associate Professor Charles Clifton, Faculty of Engineering: Earthquake and fire risk.
The earthquakes that have struck Christchurch since September 2010 have shattered lives, buildings and infrastructure. The earthquakes have also given structural engineers a unique opportunity to learn the effects of severe earthquakes on buildings and infrastructure. It provides valuable lessons about the performance of actual buildings from old to modern, built from a wide range of structural materials and with many structural forms. The lessons are relevant to all of New Zealand and will be the focus of this lecture.
- Dr Jan Lindsay, Faculty of Science: Volcanic risk.
Although Auckland is considered to be one of New Zealand’s most tectonically stable areas, it is built on and around the potentially active Auckland Volcanic Field (AVF), which comprises around 50 small volcanoes and has been active for the last quarter of a million years. The most recent eruption in the AVF occurred 550 years ago, producing the island of Rangitoto, and was witnessed by early Māori. The region also experiences low-level tectonic seismicity, and is at risk of ash fall from more distal volcanoes. Although the volcanoes in Auckland are relatively small and their eruptions have been infrequent, the risk associated with future activity is very high, given Auckland’s high physical and economic vulnerability.
• Lecture 4, Tuesday 7 August
Associate Professor Peter O’Connor, Faculty of Education: Understanding human responses - ‘a teaspoon of light’.
Peter led a team of teachers and artists from The University of Auckland to work with Christchurch children within days of the 22 February earthquake. The programme was named The Teaspoon of Light after a young child during one of the workshops was asked what she thought would help repair a torn cloth of dreams. Her response: “A teaspoon of light from the darkest tunnel would help as even a small amount of light can go through everything.” More than 3,000 children across Christchurch have taken part in Peter’s arts based workshops. The New Zealand UNESCO Commission has funded a further phase of work, which is about preparing teachers internationally for work in past or ongoing trauma sites.
• Lecture 5, Tuesday 14 August
Associate Professor Carol Mutch, Faculty of Education: Media responses - from information to interaction.
As the dramas of the past two years unfolded and played out on our television screens, Carol found herself right in the midst of two of them - the Canterbury earthquakes and the Pike River mine disaster. Her experience as a researcher meant that even while coping herself and supporting others, she couldn't help but collect material that would one day be collated and analysed to add to our understanding of these events. The theme of this lecture is how she observed the diverse ways in which the media - formal and informal - played a crucial part in disaster response, reporting and recovery.
• Lecture 6, Tuesday 21 August
Dr Ljubica Mamula-Seadon, Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, and Laurie Johnson, of Laurie Johnson Consulting, San Francisco, US: Policy responses - what have we learned?
The pressures created by the devastating effects of natural and other large magnitude hazards generate unprecedented expectations in societies and of governments. The vulnerabilities created in society by these large-scale hazards combined with interdependencies of production and supply, urban intensification, population shifts and cultural changes, newly created societal vulnerabilities force governments to turn their attention to the capacity of public, private and civic sectors to withstand disruption, absorb disturbance, act effectively in a crisis, adapt to changing conditions and grow stronger over time. This lecture examines those challenges and suggests policy and planning pathways to surmounting them, using international and New Zealand examples from Christchurch; Tohoku and Kobe, Japan; San Francisco; and New Orleans.
Admission is free and open to the public
No bookings required
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