In the beginning I explained my appreciation for warning systems across Aotearoa because of my recent experiences with tsunami warnings in Tūranga.

This motivated me to embrace this Masters of Design opportunity to focus on designing for my own community as a case study. This project aimed to respond to the research question:

How can Mātauranga Māori produce a meaningful and relevant narrative to enhance community conversations that raise awareness of tsunami risk and inform new tsunami communications for Tūranganui-a-Kiwa?

In section one, I outlined risk communication as the lens for examining tsunami communications across Aotearoa. I learned that risk communication has evolved to focus on enhancing conversations between technical experts and the general public with the purpose of communicating and managing risk in ways that are easy to understand. Because Aotearoa has multiple communications methods that inform the public of tsunami risk Brenkert-Smith et al. (2012), discussed the need to integrate expert knowledge sources (mass media communications) with informal social interactions (conversations with your neighbour). The importance of doing so recognises that local sources of information resonate better with the public because they are personalised unlike mass media communications (Brenkert-Smith et al., 2012). This was brought to light in my semi-structured interviews where some participants revealed that they had not seen the ‘Long strong, get gone’ campaign:

Nah, haven’t heard of it — Long in that time for me is 10mins. I would evaluate how long it goes on for but 10mins is the time to do something

— Rāwiri interview participant

Therefore the process of embedding the knowledge that, as the situation will unfold quickly in a localised tsunami event where the earthquake is the warning, my pouwhenua design works towards integrating risk communication focussed on the exchange of information between experts and the public that responds to the ‘4R’s risk management approach (New Zealand & Department of Internal Affairs, 2008). Hence, the people of my community and perhaps any, should be the central source of knowledge when it comes to designing new tsunami communication warning systems for Tūranga and beyond.

My approach to recognising the local knowledge of Tūranga is examined in my method of using human-centred design as a way of empathising and collaborating with my community. I identified that the ‘Double Diamond’ method provided a good basis for my design enquiry, however my process adapted from the original model to suit my community’s needs. I learned that as a design researcher, time is crucial to building relationships and whakapapa connections within a community. Reflecting back on the design process, it was important for me to build relationships with not just my own community, Tūranga, but with GNS, JCDR, Te Tairāwhiti CDEM and all other government agencies that informed this project. Human-centred design methodology kept me grounded. It helped me believe that what I have heard and observed from my own people could guide me to arrive at solutions that meet my community's needs and address their safety. 

Section three responded to my design process by acknowledging an Indigenous knowledge approach to research. The research shifted away from traditional Western perspectives to embrace indigenous perspectives, values, customs and principles. The work of Cordero (as cited in Wilson, 2008) explained one difference between these two paradigms is the separation of knowledge in a Western framework as opposed to the integration of knowledge in an Indigenous framework. This became relevant in my project when I researched into Mātauranga Māori, and found that pūrakau was used to describe tsunami in the form of taniwha (King & Goff, 2010). This indigenous approach of understanding tsunami as a phenomena links back to narrativised knowledge about the underlying seabed, continental shelves and earthquakes that trigger tsunami. I understood this in the form of atua, which is why I represented Papatūanuku as the continental shelf, Rūaumoko  atua of earthquakes and Tangaroa the atua of the ocean in my final pouwhenua design.

Section four reflects on the design process which involved building relationships through my own whakapapa connections, which is integral to an indigenous framework. Whakapapa was used to underpin the decisions and thoughts I made along this research journey ensuring that the data and narratives collected
in the semi-structured interviews and workshop were acknowledged and respected. Mechanisms like interviews, workshop and hui throughout this research enabled a way of telling the story of my community and their need to integrate local knowledge into risk and risk management for Tūranga. Section four highlights an indigenous understanding of my own cultural value that underpins a risk management approach through a system of communication and collaboration with my community. As a result this design-led research proposed the idea of designing a pouwhenua that integrates Mātauranga Māori, local knowledge and science related to tsunami communication warning systems. A narrative was built through an indigenous understanding of phenomena that tells people about the different forms, shapes and nature of an energy and expressions that can be seen in an Māori understanding of atua (Royal, 2006). The atua represented in the final pouwhenua describe the relationship between Papatūanuku, Rūaumoko and Tangaroa or an earthquake triggering a tsunami and that the shake is the warning to evacuate. By embedding a narrative that responds to traditional knowledge of place may transmit knowledge in memorable ways and enhance community conversations that raise awareness of tsunami risk and inform new tsunami communications for Tūranganui-a-Kiwa.


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