Natural Hazard Planning: The Contribution of Cook Island Maori traditional knowledge

Disasters Weather Traditional knowledge Cook Islands New Zealand

Cook Island Maori traditional knowledge is a highly intellectual body of knowledge that has contributed to the ability of Cook Island Maori to forecast impending weather and natural hazard events. Cook Island Maori traditional knowledge can be conceptualised as a body of knowledge that has, over time accumulated through an intimate relationship between the Cook Island Maori people and their environment.The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that the concentration and intensity of natural hazard events will increase. At present planning for natural hazard events in the Cook Islands is directed by the Cook Island Disaster Risk Management National Action Plan. A priority of that plan is for the development of a strong knowledge base for more effective disaster risk management.The present study suggests that Cook Island Maori traditional knowledge may offer a wealth of information for the development of a strong knowledge base for natural hazard planning and disaster risk reduction. A mixed-method approach was applied for the present study. Unstructured interviews were undertaken with lead agencies and community representatives in the Cook Islands and Dunedin. The study also analysed relevant policies informing natural hazard planning at an international, regional, national and local level. Furthermore, while many natural hazard policies indicated that traditional knowledge should be documented and recorded, none of the policies provided an extensive and practical method to how this could be achieved.The present study proposes utilising Cook Island Maori traditional knowledge by mapping traditional knowledge with scientific data to develop a database of knowledge specific to an island and or location. The development of such a database of knowledge will contribute to better informed natural hazard decisions and environmental and hazard assessments.

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