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Toka Tū Ake EQC awards $4.5m to universities for natural hazard research boost

Ten university research teams have been awarded a combined $4.5 million funding from Toka Tū Ake EQC, to boost Aotearoa New Zealand’s understanding of natural hazards and the effects on our communities. 

The research topics include ways to build more resilient buildings, land use planning for climate change, mapping areas which could suffer severe rainfall in the near future and investigating what’s getting in the way of people getting better prepared for natural hazards.  

Head of Research for Toka Tū Ake Dr Natalie Balfour says the university research programme supports a large number of students and early-career researchers, as well as making a difference for Aotearoa, “Funding is based on the delivery of a three-year research programme, which aligns with the Toka Tū Ake research priorities, including building resilience, reducing the impacts of natural hazards and building stronger homes in less risky places.  

“This year we published our latest Research Priorities Investment Statement, giving researchers clarity on what research areas are important to Toka Tū Ake.”  

The long-standing university research funding programme is designed to help PhD and masters’ students develop skills under the guidance of a leading scientist in their field, helping the next generation of scientists continue to build on our collective natural hazard knowledge.  

The successful research topics include resilient buildings, further understanding risks, education, helping empower people and research into smarter land use. The programmes are funded from 1 January 2024 and run through to 31 December 2026.  

As well as supporting multiple students and early career researchers, these projects will help make a difference for Aotearoa. The last round of programmes helped further research in developing the resilience of marae and infrastructure, contributed towards the National Seismic Hazard Model (which estimates earthquakes across the motu) and helped to improve national practices for engineers.  

“We’ve provided funding to tertiary institutions across Aotearoa New Zealand to help support natural hazard research and resilience since the 1990s and it continues to play an important role in helping us make a difference for people.  

“Aotearoa New Zealand has many world-leading researchers, and we received a number of great applications. The variety is incredible and I’m looking forward to seeing what they learn, and how it develops our shared understanding and resilience, so that everyone from families to decision-makers can plan more effectively and be more prepared,” concludes Dr Balfour. 

For a full list of the successful applicants, see below. 

Project title 

Lead researcher and contact details 

Robust and low-damage structural design for housing   

Associate Professor Richard Henry ,  

University of Auckland 

Engineering for stronger homes and better land in Aotearoa New Zealand   

Associate Professor Liam Wotherspoon,   

University of Auckland 


Assessment and Mitigation of Liquefaction Hazards   

Professor Misko Cubrinovski, 

University of Canterbury 

Resilience to Earthquake and Landslide Multi-Hazards   

Dr Timothy Stahl, University of Canterbury 

Next-generation seismic hazard analysis for NZ   

Professor Brendon Bradley, University of Canterbury 

Advancing national and community-based public education for impactful change   

Associate Professor Julia Becker,   

Massey University 

Understand the risk tolerance of hapū and iwi to natural hazards   

Professor Regan Potangaroa,   

Massey University 

Toka Tū Ake EQC Research Programme in Earthquake Seismology and Tectonic Geodesy   

Professor John Townend,  

Victoria University of Wellington   

Developing an agent-based land-use modelling approach to understand future multi-hazard urban risk profiles   

 Professor Iain White, University of Waikato   

How misleading are past experiences when planning for future record-shattering rainfall extremes?   

 Dr Luke J. Harrington, University of Waikato