Critical infrastructure impacts and adaptations in small rural towns following the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake, New Zealand. (2019)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Thesis DisciplineDisaster Risk and Resilience
Degree NameMaster of Science
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
AuthorsMcKibbin, Damon Jamesshow all
On 14 November 2016, the Mw 7.8 Kaikōura earthquake caused widespread damage along the east coast of the South Island, New Zealand. Kaikōura town itself was isolated from the rest of the country by landslides blocking off major roads. While impacts from the Kaikōura earthquake on large, urban population centres have been generally well documented, this thesis aims to fill gaps in academic knowledge regarding small rural towns. This thesis investigates what, where and when critical infrastructure and lifeline service disruption occurred following the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake in a selection of small towns, and how the communities in these areas adapted to disruption. Following a robust review of literature and news media, four small rural towns were selected from North Canterbury (Culverden & Waiau) and Marlborough (Seddon & Ward) in the South Island, New Zealand. Semi-structured interview sessions with a special focus on these towns were held with infrastructure managers, emergency response and recovery officials, and organisation leaders with experience or expertise in the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake. Findings were supplemented with emergency management situation reports to produce hazard maps and infrastructure exposure maps. A more detailed analysis was conducted for Waiau involving interdependence analyses and a level of service timeline for select lifeline services. The earthquake impacted roads by blocking them with landslides, debris and surface rupture. Bridges where shaken off their abutments, breaking infrastructure links such as fibre landlines as they went. Water supplies and other forms of infrastructure relied heavily on the level of service of roads, as rough rural terrain left few alternatives. Adapting to an artificial loss of road service, some Waiau locals created their own detour around a road cordon in order to get home to family and farms. Performance of dwellings was tied to socioeconomic factors as much as proximity to the epicentre. Farmers who lost water access pulled out fences to allow stock to drink from rivers. Socioeconomic differences between farmland and township residents also contributed to resilience variations between the towns assessed in this study. Understanding how small rural towns respond and adapt to disaster allows emergency management officials and policy to be well informed and flexible with planning for multiple size classes of towns.