Community understanding of, and preparedness for, earthquake and tsunami risk in Wellington, New Zealand

David Johnston, Julia Becker, John McClure, Douglas Paton, Sara McBride, Kim Wright, Graham Leonard, Miriam Hughes

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    The city of Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, is exposed to a wide range of potentially devastating impacts from various natural hazards. It is situated in one of the most active seismic regions in New Zealand, creating a significant earthquake risk. Another hazard to which it is exposed is that of tsunami from local and distant sources. Given the variety of hazards that Wellington faces, consideration of how the risks from such hazards can be reduced is necessary. Preparedness activities can be undertaken to try and reduce risk, with individual household preparedness forming one such activity. Motivating citizens to prepare can be a difficult task. Educators have often long assumed that if individuals are told about the risk of hazards, then they will begin to prepare; however, this is not usually the case. This is reflected in Wellington where traditional public education (i.e. information dissemination) has predominantly been undertaken to inform people about the risk of earthquakes and tsunami. Results from evaluation surveys show that in the wake of the public education campaigns, awareness of the risk is high, but levels of comprehensive preparedness low. Consequently it is apparent that risk perception does not usually link directly with preparedness, but is amplified or attenuated through a variety of individual, social psychological and community factors. Such factors are important to the preparedness process and must be considered when developing public education programmes. Programmes should include a traditional information dissemination element to build awareness of the risk, as well as a more interactive community-based component to foster important factors such as critical awareness, self-efficacy, outcome expectancy, action coping, participation, engagement and trust.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationCities at Risk
    Subtitle of host publicationLiving with Perils in the 21st Century
    EditorsHelene Joffe, Tiziana Rossetto, John Adams
    Place of PublicationDordrecht, Netherlands
    PublisherSpringer Netherlands
    Number of pages18
    ISBN (Electronic)978-94-007-6184-1
    ISBN (Print)978-94-007-6183-4, 978-94-017-8326-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

    Publication series

    NameAdvances in Natural and Technological Hazards Research
    ISSN (Print)1878-9897
    ISSN (Electronic)2213-6959


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