Webinar: Earthquake-prone marae

Resilience to Nature's Challenges

Earthquake-prone buildings have hit the headlines in recent years. But what happens when a community has deep ancestral, spiritual and emotional attachment to buildings deemed ‘earthquake-prone’? This is an issue facing many whānau and hapū around the motu.

While some older marae may exceed the new threshold for structural safety (34% of New Building Standards), this cannot be determined without a structural engineer’s report. The high cost of getting such reports means many marae may not meet the deadline for seismic assessment prescribed by the Building Act, and so will have their pre-1976 buildings designated ‘earthquake-prone’ by default.

Approximately 70% of Aotearoa New Zealand’s 1,300 marae expected to have buildings classified as ‘earthquake-prone’ over the next 20 years. A team led by Prof Regan Potangaroa (Ngāti Kahungunu) of Massey University is trying to provide solutions to this complex problem.

For example, most marae buildings are very similar. How could a tailored approach to engineering reports achieve efficiencies and save money for individual marae communities?

If strengthening work is required, Regan favours what he calls “whānau-isation”—the pooling of resources to take a hands-on, community-driven approach—that could enable many to cost-effectively upgrade their buildings for safe and continued use.

Regan will speak about his research and the differing situations he has encountered at case-study marae he has been working with in Hastings, Masterton and Wellington. He is joined by Maire Kipa (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungunu) who will speak about case-study marae in the South Island. Demetrius Potangaroa (Te Ore Ore Marae marae committee chairman) and Boy Thompson (Chairman of Trustees of Te Kainga) will provide community perspectives.

The webinar will be recorded and made available following the event.


11.00 am


Regan Potangaroa

Regan is Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa and has been involved with earthquake prone Wharenui since graduating from Canterbury University School of Engineering in the late 1970s. He had worked on many seismic strengthening projects which sparked his Master of Architecture at Victoria University. That lead to the seismic strengthening work on the Temple at Ratana Pā in the 1990s. And since then, he has worked on many earthquake-prone marae with the Historic Places Trust in Wellington (now Heritage NZ) and through his whānau network. Regan’s professional background of 25 years as a structural design engineer means that his involvement with earthquake prone- marae/wharenui is natural but he has always had an interest in older buildings, better use of as built resources, housing and doing all of that at an affordable cost.  And that is something that has extended into his 16 years of academic life and over 200 humanitarian deployments with the United Nations, the IFRC, the big five INGO universities and governments in 26 countries.

Maire Kipa

He uri ahau no Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungunu. Ko Te Upoko o Tahumatā te maunga, Okana te Awa, Ngāti Irakehu te hapu, Ko Irakehu he Manawahine, Takitimu me Uruao ngā waka.

Kia ora, my name is Maire Kipa, I am a Kai-Rangahau Māori based in Ōtautahi assisting Professor Potangaroa in the study of earthquake prone-marae. I am passionate about working from the flax roots and supporting whānau-led recovery networks. I was employed for four years in the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Agency’s Community Resilience Team and then with Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency where I led the rollout of Rū Whenua Navigators for Kaikōura, Rapaki and the Eastern suburbs of Christchurch. Our case study includes the impact of changes in the building codes for marae and the haukainga (whanau emergency responders). My contribution considers the ways in which Mātauranga Māori generates value for marae resilience and disaster risk reduction.

In times of change new ideas and knowledge flows out of shifting priorities and changing cultural perspectives. We will host a noho wānanga of marae emergency responders for whakawhanaungatanga and share purakau of historical significance related to natural disasters within their takiwa. This will set the scene for reflecting on critical decisions made during the emergency response how they played out and the outcomes of those for the present day.

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