Centre for Disaster Resilience, Recovery and Reconstruction

Our research

The Centre for Disaster Resilience, Recovery and Reconstruction is dedicated to providing timely, relevant and independent research to help communities better improve resilience and manage their post-disaster activities.

We work with industry and international agencies to improve the resilience of communities and their surrounding environments.

If you have a project you would like to see undertaken by CDRRR, feel free to contact us.


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Resilience to Nature's Challenge


2016 - ongoing

The Urban Co-Creation Laboratory of the National Science Challenge is now well established and a strong team of academic, practitioner and PhD researchers are working in partnership with Auckland Council on the five key strands in the Urban programme; city to city knowledge sharing, resilient businesses, resilient communities, resilient planning and resilient infrastructure. A programme is in place with Auckland Council linking Civil Defence and Emergency Management (CDEM) training with National Science Challenge research. This will have significant impact on knowledge transfer and policy implications. There is evidence that research is impacting the policy and practice of Auckland Council already with regular meetings and involvement in resilience strategy. 

For more information, click here

Victorian ‘Black Saturday’ bushfires longitudinal study series


2009 - ongoing

The 2009 Victorian ‘Black Saturday’ bushfires in the North of Melbourne destroyed more than 2,000 houses and caused 171 deaths.

In Marysville and Kinglake, in particular, town centres were almost completely destroyed by the bushfires and enormous public and private efforts and resources have been put in place to help communities rebuild their towns.

Researchers in CDRRR have been undertaking a longitudinal study of bushfire recovery since August 2009, six months after the event. The study series looks at the recovery issues and critical recovery decisions made on the recovery timeframe, as well as the longer-term outcomes as a result of these decisions.



Resourcing the Canterbury rebuild research project


2011 - ongoing

“Resourcing the Canterbury Rebuild Research Project” (also known as “Resource project”) is jointly funded by the University of Auckland, the Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ), Resilient Organisations, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Earthquake Commission (EQC). Its purpose is to measure the capability and capacity of the construction sector to manage a major reconstruction effort in Canterbury following the 2010 and 2011 earthquake sequence. Since the commencement of the project in September 2011, the research team have been surveying and interviewing Canterbury construction organisations to understand:

  • Size of the reconstruction task across Canterbury.
  • The anticipated resources needed to complete the reconstruction task within the scheduled reconstruction period.
  • Human and material impact of other projects.
  • Social and economic impacts of resource shortages.
  • Emerging issues that influence the progression of recovery.

The research team have agreement with 15 construction industry organisations to case study their progress and resourcing of the rebuild over time. Interviews with representatives of those companies were conducted on a regular basis. The ongoing consultation and discussion with people working in the related fields in CERA and MBIE have shown the need to continually reassess, update and pose solutions and best practice approaches to solve the resourcing challenges the rebuild faces.

Information gathered in the case studies has been disseminated widely to improve knowledge, practice, implementation and experience for construction organisations in Canterbury.


  • The economic case for housing the workforce

    In this presentation Alice Chang-Richards explains why there is an economic as well as a social case for providing interim housing for the incoming workforce for a major reconstruction effort following disasters.


Build Back Better


2011 - ongoing

The Build Back Better project aims to establish and apply an international Build Back Better (BBB) framework for disaster reconstruction.

The study has already identified the key elements required to Build Back Better (BBB) and produced a framework which describes how key elements in BBB relate to each other.

Study continues with testing the applicability of this framework in different disasters to create a final BBB Framework which provides practical suggestions for disaster recovery practitioners to undertake reconstruction and recovery activities in-line with BBB principles in order to build back better.


  • Build Back Better - A Realistic Goal?

    In August 2013, then PhD student, Sandeeka Mannakkara explains how the Build Back Better concept and framework is a valuable tool to be used throughout post-disaster recovery and reconstruction at the 'Creating Resilience for a Hazardous World Resilient Organisations Research Symposium, University of Canterbury, New Zealand.

Resilience of construction organisations

Door with red zone notice on it, and a handwritten sign above that reads, please use side door.

2012 - ongoing

This research aims to establish a measurement tool for assessing the resilience of organisations within the construction sector.

The researchers are working with Resilient Organisations to further the development of the resilience benchmarking tool, and are testing the resilience of a selection of construction organisations in New Zealand.


Resilient infrastructure

Photograph of a mostly demolished bridge made of concrete and steel rods.

2013 - ongoing

This programme of works designs, tests and implements resilience measurement tools and examines the tools effectiveness at producing a resilient environment.

The projects currently underway are studies on resilience of transportation networks and resilience of water and waste water networks.

National and international measurement tools are being considered as part of this programme of work.



Disaster recovery patterns

2004 - ongoing

Members from CDRRR have been tracking recovery and reconstruction and have developed profiles of different disasters over time. Using over ten years of research data collected from different disasters around the world, this project aims to develop a full understanding of the long term recovery patterns faced by communities after disasters. The research will aid disaster management policy makers to develop plans for dealing with the recovery phases.


  • Learning from past disasters - phases of recovery

    Dr Suzanne Wilkinson explains how ten years of research tracking recovery in a variety of disaster areas reveals distinct stages of recovery from a chaos (what do we do now) phase through to an acceptance of a new normal (this is how it is, there is no going back).