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‘Toka Tu Ake EQC awards $1.2 million for research to boost NZ’s resilience to natural hazards’

Toka Tū Ake EQC (Earthquake Commission) has awarded 14 research teams a total of more than $1.2 million in this year’s Biennial Grants round. These research projects aim to help better understand our natural hazard risks and find ways to reduce the impact of those hazards.

Toka Tū Ake EQC wants to ensure natural hazard resilience becomes embedded in all aspects of decision-making for homes, towns, and cities in Aotearoa New Zealand. Investing in research and translating that will reduce our vulnerability to natural hazard events.

The Biennial Grants have been running since 1989 as part of our contestable funding and are awarded every two years. Successful grants are aligned with the Toka Tū Ake research investment priorities, including research that empowers people, quantifies hazards and their impacts, looks at smarter land use, governance and economics and resilient buildings. This year there were nearly 80 expressions of interest.

Head of Research Dr Natalie Balfour says each of the 14 research projects will help understand New Zealand’s natural hazard risk and reduce the impact on people and property when events do happen.

“The successful projects cover most of our natural hazards from volcanoes to landslides, and many of the projects incorporate effects of climate change on these hazards, such as one on slope hazard hotspots in Aotearoa’s changing climate.”

Some also include mātauranga Māori or are led by Māori researchers, such as one project about coastal inundation losses on Māori assets in the southern Marlborough district which will integrate Te Ao Māori with contemporary science to analyse coastal inundation losses for adaptive resilience.”

“Investing in science and research is critical, as is translating it into tangible and appropriate outputs for others to use. If we can put sound data and research into the hands of key decision-makers like policy makers, local councils, designers, engineers, builders and most importantly, the New Zealand public, that’s when we can start making a difference.,” Dr Balfour says.

She said results from previous Toka Tū Ake investments have led to new building design guidance for engineers, identifying at-risk land, and detailed information for planners and emergency managers about the likely impacts of natural hazards across the country.

This year Toka Tū Ake continued special allocations to ensure there are more opportunities for Māori relevant research and early-career researchers.

“We were delighted with the response to this year’s grant round and pleased to be supporting fantastic projects that broaden the focus of our research programme to deliver new knowledge for Aotearoa New Zealand’s resilience. The quality of the proposals was exceptionally high.”

Along with funding the Biennial Grants, Toka Tū Ake invests in research at universities across New Zealand, supports regional and community organisations in research on natural hazards and risk reduction, as well as contributing to systems and programmes such as the GeoNet New Zealand’s natural hazard monitoring system.


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