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Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1952;

Transformations for Resilient Rural Futures: The Case of Kaikōura, Aotearoa-New Zealand

Governance & Policy, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, Lincoln 7640, New Zealand
Department of Tourism, Sport and Society, Lincoln University, Lincoln 7647, New Zealand
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 7 May 2018 / Revised: 8 June 2018 / Accepted: 10 June 2018 / Published: 11 June 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transforming Development and Disaster Risk)
PDF [4662 KB, uploaded 11 June 2018]


On 14 November 2016, a magnitude (Mw) 7.8 earthquake struck the small coastal settlement of Kaikōura, Aotearoa-New Zealand. With an economy based on tourism, agriculture, and fishing, Kaikōura was immediately faced with significant logistical, economic, and social challenges caused by damage to critical infrastructure and lifelines, essential to its main industries. Massive landslips cut off road and rail access, stranding hundreds of tourists, and halting the collection, processing and distribution of agricultural products. At the coast, the seabed rose two metres, limiting harbour-access to high tide, with implications for whale watching tours and commercial fisheries. Throughout the region there was significant damage to homes, businesses, and farmland, leaving owners and residents facing an uncertain future. This paper uses qualitative case study analysis to explore post-quake transformations in a rural context. The aim is to gain insight into the distinctive dynamics of disaster response mechanisms, focusing on two initiatives that have emerged in direct response to the disaster. The first examines the ways in which agriculture, food harvesting, production and distribution are being reimagined with the potential to enhance regional food security. The second examines the rescaling of power in decision-making processes following the disaster, specifically examining the ways in which rural actors are leveraging networks to meet their needs and the consequences of that repositioning on rural (and national) governance arrangements. In these and other ways, the local economy is being revitalised, and regional resilience enhanced through diversification, capitalising not on the disaster but the region’s natural, social, and cultural capital. Drawing on insights and experience of local stakeholders, policy- and decision-makers, and community representatives we highlight the diverse ways in which these endeavours are an attempt to create something new, revealing also the barriers which needed to be overcome to reshape local livelihoods. Results reveal that the process of transformation as part of rural recovery must be grounded in the lived reality of local residents and their understanding of place, incorporating and building on regional social, environmental, and economic characteristics. In this, the need to respond rapidly to realise opportunities must be balanced with the community-centric approach, with greater recognition given to the contested nature of the decisions to be made. Insights from the case examples can inform preparedness and recovery planning elsewhere, and provide a rich, real-time example of the ways in which disasters can create opportunities for reimagining resilient futures. View Full-Text
Keywords: resilience; disaster; earthquake; recovery; transformation; New Zealand resilience; disaster; earthquake; recovery; transformation; New Zealand

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Cradock-Henry, N.A.; Fountain, J.; Buelow, F. Transformations for Resilient Rural Futures: The Case of Kaikōura, Aotearoa-New Zealand. Sustainability 2018, 10, 1952.

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