Understanding climate hazards for hapori Māori

An exploratory analysis to understand the specific challenges of hapori Māori (Māori communities) within the context of te ao hurihuri – a changing world.

Published: Friday, 15 December 2023 | Rāmere, 15 Hakihea, 2023

Understanding climate hazards for hapori Māori – insights for policy makers report and the available dataset, contributes to an expanding knowledge base regarding the unique needs of hapori Māori in the context of te ao hurihuri – a changing world,” says Paula Rawiri, Deputy Secretary Policy and Partnerships.

The impact of climate change is undeniably significant. In 2022 heavy rain and flooding caused extensive damage to parts of the North and South Islands, and states of emergency were declared for Tairāwhiti, Nelson, Westland, and Marlborough. In early 2023 a national state of emergency was declared when cyclone Hale and cyclone Gabrielle tore through towns and cities across the North Island causing widespread flooding, destroying homes, submerging marae in silt and sediment, cutting off communities and tragically claiming lives.

The floods and landslides witnessed in early 2023 are expected to become more frequent. Some regions may also face prolonged periods of drought and extreme rainfall, while others could experience contrasting weather patterns. Gradual changes such as ocean warming and increased hot days will also introduce new climate hazards, emphasizing the need for preparedness and adaptability.

While all New Zealanders will feel the impact of these climate hazards, the ability of communities to adapt and their resilience will vary considerably across the motu. In particular, hapori Māori (Māori communities), face heightened risks due to their geographical locations, the industries they work in, and current socio-economic circumstances.

“Te Puni Kōkiri has undertaken a first step exploratory analysis to understand the projected risks of climate hazards on hapori Māori. The study found that Māori households, while facing similar exposure to climate hazards as the overall population, are projected to face greater risks due to a higher proportion of Māori households at risk of poverty, health disparities, justice and protection concerns, and adaptability issues.”

Some key findings include:

  • More than 8 out of 10 Māori households live in SA2 areas are exposed to some level of flooding.
  • About 1 in 7 Māori households live in coastal areas that are projected to flood from rising sea levels.
  • SA2 areas that are likely to be flooded due to rising sea levels, heavy rain, and prolonged wet weather have a higher proportion of older Māori households.
  • Heavy rain and prolonged wet weather are expected to affect fewer Māori households than other climate events. The West Coast and Taranaki are the two regions that are most likely to experience more extreme rainfall and prolonged wet weather in the future.
  • More than 8 out of 10 Māori households live in areas where the number of extremely hot days is projected to increase.
  • Nearly all (93%) Māori households are projected to experience a 10% or more increase in the number of heatwave days.
  • Almost all Māori households live in areas where drought index is projected to increase in the future.

“This mahi is part of the work that Te Puni Kōkiri has committed to deliver under the Government’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP) to ‘assess socio-economic and climate vulnerability for Māori.”

The NAP supports all New Zealanders to adapt, live and thrive in a changing climate. It looks at the impacts of climate change with us now and into the future and sets out how Aotearoa New Zealand can adapt.

“Our vision is to foster collaboration in building a climate-resilient future, where all communities, including hapori Māori, can thrive despite the challenges faced by te ao hurihuri, a changing world. We will continue to work with and influence government agency policy making to achieve best outcomes for Māori,” says Deputy Secretary Rawiri.

The report

The report is available here. We will be releasing the Data Tool in early 2024 on our website.