Research Project

Risk management for Māori coastal assets

Coastal Māori farming communities are already affected by sea level rise. Erosion of the beach and even the collapse of some coastal infrastructure during storms is happening in several parts of the country. Effects such as flooding due to rising groundwater are subtler and more widespread. 

This project builds on the significant collective knowledge about climate change risks and opportunities built throughout 2015–17 in the rohe of Horowhenua– Kāpiti. This second phase of our project aims to take another step towards change: co-developing Transition Action Plans that, given local conditions, will enable Māori communities throughout Aotearoa New Zealand to assess the risks and benefits of alternative coastal land use.

In the first phase of our project, we combined data about soil, floods, topography, river sedimentation and sea level rise to identify the most vulnerable areas of our coastal farms. We also used an interdisciplinary approach to identify indicators of change and staged strategies for adaptation. This second phase will examine physical processes such as future change in groundwater levels, and identify a wider range of options for managing wetlands and landscapes.

Although multiple reports have been produced about coastal erosion risks – including by local and regional councils – none have highlighted social engagement processes that could lead to effective community action. Our Māori-led interdisciplinary action research approach prioritises social engagement when considering how to respond to sea level rise and other climate change impacts. 

This project in the media: