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NZ’s big natural disaster questions get $1m EQC research funding

Would New Zealanders benefit from an earthquake early warning system?  What do emergency managers need to know before evacuating Aucklanders ahead of a volcanic eruption?  Can liquefaction in Blenheim improve national understanding of keeping water, electricity and buildings safer in an earthquake? And what’s happening with the giant Hikurangi undersea fault that stretches from the top of the South Island along the east coast of the North Island?

EQC is funding investigations of these and other critical questions through its 2018 Biennial Grants research programme.

Dr Hugh Cowan, General Manager Resilience, says EQC has awarded $1 million across a total of 16 research projects.

“This $1 million research investment is part of EQC’s annual $16 million of research funding aimed at reducing the impact of natural disasters on people and property in New Zealand.

“We live in a country with beautiful mountains, rivers and lakes. This landscape was largely created by geological forces, so we also live with a lot of natural hazard risk. Our research programme is focused on understanding more about New Zealand’s natural hazards, and working out how to reduce the impact on New Zealanders.

“We can’t stop earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. But we can better understand the risks, and develop practical steps to reduce the impact on people and property,” says Dr Cowan.

“The researchers we are funding will lead scientific teams to investigate some of the big and urgent questions. Results of their research will be used to help New Zealand take action to increase our resilience to natural disaster.

“We have invested in hundreds of research projects over many years to support scientific understanding of natural hazards so we can mitigate risk. The results have led to new building techniques and better building codes, identifying at risk land, and detailed information for planners and emergency managers about the likely effects of natural hazards in their region.

“So when homeowners are paying their EQC levy, as well as getting natural disaster insurance, they are making a contribution to research that helps us understand the likelihood and impact of natural hazards, and what steps can be taken to reduce the impact on New Zealanders.”

Dr Cowan says that along with funding the Biennial Grants, EQC also contributes $12 million to the GeoNet monitoring system, funds post-graduate student research, university positions and supports regional organisations like Determining Volcanic Risk in Auckland and It’s Our Fault in Wellington that bring together natural hazard research with local emergency management.

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