Resilience and vulnerability in communities around Mt Taranaki


Finnis, Kirsten Kay, 1978-


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The aim of this thesis is to examine the resilience and vulnerability of Taranaki communities to volcanic hazards, and to propose a strategy to ensure the safety and longevity of Taranaki residents in the event of an eruption.

Mt Taranaki is a dormant volcano that is surrounded by a ring plain populated by over 100,000 people. The volcano has had an average eruptive cycle of 330 years, with the last eruption dated at ~1755 AD. Hazards include ash fall, lahars, debris avalanches and pyroclastic density currents. Inglewood, Stratford and Opunake are the largest population centres located in moderate to high hazard zones, and for this reason were chosen as the study communities.

Resilience is defined as the capacity to respond to a hazard event by physically and psychologically recovering, adapting to, or changing to similar or better conditions than those experienced before the event. Vulnerability is defined to be people's incapacity to cope with a hazardous event as a result of their personal characteristics. A person's vulnerability and resilience is influenced by demographic variables, socio-cognitive variables and preparedness.

Inglewood, Stratford and Opunake adults have good self-efficacy and action-coping use, fair risk perceptions, outcome expectancy and response efficacy, but poor understanding of event timing relative to eruption probability, critical awareness, preparedness and information-seeking intentions and preparedness levels. Preparedness is found to be influenced by residents' intentions to prepare, which in turn are influenced by critical awareness, action-coping and outcome expectancy.

Taranaki students have a fair awareness of hazard and knowledge of correct response behaviours to various hazards. Preparedness, in terms of preparedness measures undertaken, emergency plans made and emergency practices in place, is low. Students who have participated in hazard-education programmes have a better knowledge of response behaviours, lower levels of hazard-related fear, and reported higher level of preparedness.

Spatial analyses, carried out to determine the geographic distribution of at-risk groups within the study communities, showed that the areas most at-risk tend to be those with the highest population densities. The spatial analysis was not as beneficial as expected, due to small data sets, but did provide some results to be considered as a basis for further research.

Effective public education can be achieved when delivered to a set of guidelines, such as providing information regularly through multiple media and sources, ensuring consistent messages, targeting information to at-risk groups and monitoring programme effectiveness. Community capacity building projects decrease aspects of vulnerability and build resilience by working at a local scale and targeting at-risk groups. Psychological preparedness education helps citizens to mentally prepare for an event and should be a component of all projects.

The proposed strategy calls for (a) forming partnerships with relevant stakeholders to assist with public education, research, and funding, (b) further research into the characteristics of Taranaki communities and effective public education campaigns, (c) the development and implementation of a public education schedule and projects that build community capacity, and d) long-term planning, periodic revision of programmes and consistent public engagement.

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xvii, 445 leaves : ill., maps ; 30 cm.


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POLYGON ((173.697497887098592 -38.884149356665198,174.703744201329101 -38.867842164422783,174.659819117622419 -39.917391551453917,173.723383880626216 -39.921056674676514,173.689699186062086 -38.866313626657806,173.697497887098592 -38.884149356665198))

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Finnis, Kirsten Kay, 1978-, “Resilience and vulnerability in communities around Mt Taranaki,” Otago Geology Theses, accessed April 22, 2019,