The rise of natural disasters in NZ calls for more disaster architects

By Ani-Oriwia Adds
  • Wellington

World-renowned Māori disaster architect Regan Potangaroa says New Zealand needs more experts like him as we face an increase in natural disasters.

As the rate of natural disaster in New Zealand rise so does the need for disaster architects.

Potangaroa says, "We’re very short of those sorts of people in New Zealand because we simply haven't done it before. Those of us that have, have done it overseas invariably in a humanitarian context and the question is whether the humanitarian context transfers across to New Zealand. I say it does."

Professor Regan Potangaroa has travelled to more than 26 countries using his specialist skills in engineering and architecture in the wake of natural disasters and conflict.

Potangaroa says, "We have the technology to address those problems and really what we want is the will from government to actually help us get in and get access to do the job that we've done overseas."

Following the 2010 earthquakes in Haiti, he assisted with the design and placement of retaining walls that would prevent further flood damage in occupied areas. He says these systems would also be useful here in New Zealand.

He says, "In Haiti, we looked at and developed over 2200 houses with the International Federation of the Red Cross but for Edgecumbe, what we need to do is to build houses that are more flood resilient rather than building ones that are necessarily flood resistant. There’s a big difference."

Potangaroa will be speaking about this in a lecture tomorrow night at Te Herenga Waka Marae.