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Modelling Disruption - helping communities understand the impacts of disruptive events

Tuesday 29 March 2022, 11am-12pm.

A Resilience to Nature’s Challenges webinar organised by National Science Challenges on how the MERIT tool helps communities understand the social and economic impacts of disruptive events, and assess mitigation options.

The global pandemic has served to highlight the impact disruption can have on our social and economic systems. With the inevitability of climate change, as well as future natural hazard events, it is increasingly essential that our systems are prepared for and able to cope with disruption.

In this webinar Michele Daly (GNS Science), Nicola McDonald and Garry McDonald (M.E. Research) and Charlotte Brown (Resilient Organisations) will outline the suite of tools developed by the cross-organisational MERIT (Modelling the Economics of Resilient Infrastructure) team.

Their tools assist communities to trace the potential impacts of disruptive events on social and economic systems, and they can also inform community discussions on the appropriate levels of investment in mitigation options.

A key feature of the MERIT approach is also the recognition that businesses and communities have some capacity to adapt in the face of adversity and this needs to be taken into consideration.

The presenters will outline the process the MERIT team undertook to simulate the economic consequences of a Wellington Fault earthquake event. This work formed part of the Wellington Lifelines Programme Business Case and included examination of how economic consequences changed with investments in more-resilient critical infrastructure.

For more information and/or to register go HERE.

The Rakiura Dune Restoration Programme (1999-2021)

Like many of you I was looking forward to Mike Hilton’s talk at the Southland conference in 2020. Unfortunately he had to cancel in order to sort out remote learning at Otago University in response to reports of Covid in NZ. DOC staff also got pulled, but some of those attending managed to go on the weekend field trip to Mason’s Bay on Rakiura. Many others have visited these dunes.

If you wanted any details about the work out there, Mike Hilton and Teresa Konlechner used their lockdowns constructively and produced a book “The Rakiura Dune Restoration Programme (1999 -2021)”. In their words, they did it to celebrate the 21 years work by DOC rangers in Southland. I see it equally as a celebration of a dedicated staff member who’s put a couple of decades into the site and the subject, of the students who were involved, and of their desire to impart this knowledge to DOC staff and managers. Teresa’s headed for a decade or more of her own involvement there.

This is a really good synthesis of the work done there by Mike and his students, building our understanding of specifically marram grass. It’s a bit like a detective story, how the bits and pieces of knowledge gleaned from different studies have been used to build an understanding of how the dunes and marram function, and what needs to be done to manage the marram. It provides a good overview of the situation and the future, and anybody facing a marram issue will gain a lot from the book. It’s amazing what can be achieved when management is backed by good science.

Many of the references in here will be in our reference database, the rest will be added shortly.

The book can be downloaded here.

Graeme La Cock


Beach vegetation data needed by PhD student

Cate Ryan, one of the Trust’s student scholarship recipients and a major player in organising our next conference, is doing her PhD on identifying and measuring indicators of active dune condition using remotely sensed imagery (aerial, UAV and satellite), at a national scale.

She needs help with relatively recent (in the past 10-12 years) vegetation records for her dune study sites to assess against her results. Ideally she’d like composition and cover data for the beaches listed below, but presence /absence data (e.g. species lists) will also be really helpful. Her research is plot based, with the plots in the foredunes, but she would be keen to see any data for any parts of the following beaches:

Spirits Bay (Northland)

Ponaki Beach (Northland)

Rarawa (Northland)

Cable Bay (Northland)

Pakiri – Te Arai Beaches (Auckland)

Muriwai (Auckland)

Whatipu (Auckland)

Tawharanui (Auckland)

Orewa (Auckland)

Otama (Coromandel)

Ohope Beach west (Bay of Plenty)

Mangangu Stream (Waikato)

Himitangi (Manawatu)

Otaki (Wellington)

Raumati (Wellington)

New Brighton Beach (Canterbury)

Kaitorete Spit (Canterbury)

Waikouiti Beach (Otago)

Saint Kilda and Saint Clair Beaches (Otago)

Coal River (Fiordland)

Welcome Bay (Fiordland)

Smoky Beach (Rakiura /Stewart Island)

If you can help her, we’d really appreciate it. Please send any data or queries to .

Conference postponed to 15-17 March 2023

It is with great disappointment that we have decided to postpone the conference for a year. We feel it is prudent to do so, given the rising Covid community cases and the predicted peak in March.

We are very fortunate that AUT has transferred our booking to next year and that the AUT Environmental Science team is happy to continue their involvement so we are looking forward to retaining much of the current, great programme. No one knows how things will be looking in 2023 but we are very hopeful we will be able to run the event.

We are extremely grateful to AUT for their continued support of this event and to all the sponsors, key-note speakers, workshop facilitators, field trip leaders and locals experts and venues.

Thank you very much to everyone who has registered for the conference and we hope you are able to make the new date. If you haven’t received an email regarding your registration please contact us at

New report on effects of sediments on birds

A report on the effects of sediments on coastal birds was commissioned by the Department of Conservation and has just been published. In it the known effects of marine sediment on New Zealand’s 87 seabird species and 47 shorebird species were discussed in this report. Knowledge gaps were also highlighted.

Known effects of sediment

Sedimentation events are both cumulative, where sediment accumulates slowly over time, or catastrophic, where sediment is rapidly deposited, often following severe rainfall. Both types affect seabirds and shorebirds.

The report notes that there is relatively little published literature about the effects of sediment on birds. Some information is available about how:

  • turbidity caused by sedimentation can affect seabirds that hunt visually, including terns, shags and penguins
  • sedimentation can indirectly affect seabirds and shorebirds by affecting the marine food web (especially macroinvertebrates)
  • sedimentation reduces light penetration, smothers the seafloor and changes the composition of marine ecosystems.

Use of the Resource Management Act to address sedimentation

The effects of sediment have been addressed with the Resource Management Act in several different situations. Examples included in the report are:

  • Okura Estuary urban development
  • forestry in the Marlborough Sounds and its impact on king shags/kawau
  • sedimentation in the southern Firth of Thames and its impact on shorebirds
  • regional and district plans in Otago and yellow-eyed penguin/hoiho foraging
  • New Zealand fairy terns/tara iti and mangrove removal
  • coastal birds in the Motiti Natural Environment Management Area
  • sand mining at the South Taranaki Bight
  • dredging of Port Otago and its impact on coastal birds.

To read more and/or to download the report go here, from where these words were taken.