Outcomes and impacts

Find out about some of the achievements and highlights of the Whakahura research programme.

Outcomes of our programme

The main benefit of our research programme will be improved wellbeing through enhanced decision-making in the face of fast-changing distributions of weather extremes. This will be delivered through the knowledge, predictions, and tools we will design around the needs of government, industry, iwi, and individuals.

Key achievements and highlights

Protecting Māori assets

Iwi and hapū are improving their protection and management of their assets in the face of climate change-induced extreme weather. Shaun Awatere is advising Auckland Council on an adaptation planning process to ensure kaupapa Māori perspectives are integrated into adaptation processes.

Shaun is also part of a technical group advising the Ministry for the Environment on climate change reporting. This was initially a physical response, but has now widened to include wellbeing domains, particularly from a mātauranga Māori perspective that considers manaaki, whakapapa, and Te Tiriti. He has also met with the Treasury team advising the new Climate Change Commission who are looking to focus more on wellbeing.

Informing decision-makers

Key decision-makers and investors are becoming better informed regarding the most likely damaging weather events in the next four decades, and the likely systemic effects of these on the economy.

The Whakahura programme hosted the International Detection and Attribution Group (IDAG) meeting at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington in February 2020. IDAG is a group of specialists on climate change detection and attribution who have made substantial contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) process.

This was the first time that IDAG was held outside the USA or Europe and in a national capital. The latter offered the opportunity to hold a joint session between scientists and participants from national government and industry bodies. Attendees discussed the D&A studies, whether they have been underutilised in policy, and how they might be developed to serve policy makers.

Sharing a rich database

Stakeholders and researchers have been able to access to a rich database of past losses—environmental, economic, and cultural—from extreme weather events in New Zealand.

A database of historical extreme weather events (EWEs) has been created as part of a larger disaster database we are constructing. When finished, our disaster database will support the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to improve their reporting to the United Nations Sendai Process.

The database will also contribute to our understanding of indigenous damages and disaster management policy. And it will support local governments to improve their understanding of losses, thereby informing infrastructure and planning decisions.

Raising climate science literacy

Whakahura is part of a body of ongoing research that is increasing climate science literacy among communities of researchers and stakeholders, as well as among the general public.

Within the first year of the programme, we have collaborated productively with numerous scientists around the world. Several exciting international collaborations were lined up at the International Detection and Attribution Group (IDAG), including one with the European Union project, Eupheme.

In addition, we held extensive meetings with Australian Whakahura collaborators, and we have agreed on a division of labour to work together on several papers.