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Caroline Orchiston imageDirector

Tel +64 3 479 9244
Mob +64 21 077 8888

Research background

Caroline’s background in both earth and social sciences involves research on aspects of tourism disaster resilience and recovery, community and business resilience, and scenario planning for impacts to critical infrastructure and emergency management during earthquake disasters. Her PhD and Postdoctoral research investigated tourism in areas of high seismic risk (Southern Alps and Canterbury, New Zealand), focussing on pre-disaster planning and preparedness (Alpine Fault zone) and post-disaster impacts and recovery amongst tourism enterprises and stakeholders (Canterbury earthquake sequence). Since 2010, Caroline has also been involved in a longitudinal study of community preparedness and awareness to natural hazards in Washington State, USA in collaboration with GNS Science, Washington State Emergency Management and the United States Geological Survey. She is an Affiliate Researcher at both the Joint Centre for Disaster Research (Massey Wellington and GNS Science) and Resilient Organisations (Christchurch).

Caroline joined the Centre in March 2016 as a Research Fellow involved in Resilience to Nature’s Challenges (National Science Challenge). This 10-year research programme focusses on building a more resilient New Zealand by transforming how we prepare for and mitigate against rapid (earthquakes, floods) and slow onset (climate change-related) disasters. Caroline is Co-lead of the Rural programme, with Professor Tom Wilson (University of Canterbury). More information about the Rural programme and Resilience to Nature’s Challenges can be found here: Resilience to Nature's Challenges

Caroline is an Associate Director for QuakeCoRE, the New Zealand Centre for Earthquake Resilience, and is also co-lead for Disciplinary Theme 4 Social and Cultural Factors shaping Resilience.

As Science Lead for AF8 [Alpine Fault magnitude 8], Caroline works with a wide team of Alpine Fault scientists and emergency management practitioners to improve the way New Zealand will respond and recover from a future magnitude 8 earthquake on the Alpine Fault. The lessons learned from this work programme can also be applied to a range of other disruptive events, because building strong networks in communities, response agencies and Universities is key to societal resilience.

Caroline’s passion is for applied research that makes a different to our society, particularly in building social capital through networks and connections, and working with communities to build resilience.

Current and recent projects


Current masters' students

  • Moriah Osborne (2020). Tourism operator preparedness and resilience in the Southern Alps. Fully funded QuakeCoRE scholarship.
  • Caroline Cech (Master of Planning, 2023) – rural community resilience to natural hazards.
  • Maisie Fisher (Master of Planning, 2023) – rural community resilience to natural hazards

Current PhD students

  • Marufa Akther (March 2021-). Lower Seismic Hazard zones – implications of current legislation towards reducing building risk.
  • Caelan Church (2023). A New Direction: Opportunities for National Guidance on Natural Hazard Management During RMA Reform.
  • Lucia Danzi (2020-). Tourism and emergency management. Resilience to Nature’s Challenges scholarship.
  • Sonja Mueller (2019- ). Community and local knowledge of water-driven hazards. University of Otago scholarship.
  • Rajan Chandra Ghosh, (2018-). Climate-Induced Migration and Sustainability: A Spatial Analysis of Urban New Zealand. University of Otago Scholarship.
  • Mathew Darling, (August 2018-). Assessing Transient Populations Exposure to Disaster Risk. (University of Canterbury)

Recent postgraduate students

  • Jamie MacKenzie (2022). Community engagement and resilience in Glenorchy: Dynamic Adaptive Pathways Planning in complex, changing environments.
  • Shakti Shrestha (2022) – Wellington Cordon baseline project. QuakeCoRE (NZ Centre for Research Excellence) Scholarship
  • David Wither (2021) – Social norms of resilience in Kaikoura post-earthquake disaster. Resilience to Nature’s Challenges scholarship

Significant publications

Higham, J.E.S., Hopkins, D. and Orchiston, C. (2022). Academic aeromobility in the Global periphery (Chapter 8) in K. Bjørkdahl, A. S. Franco Duharte (eds.), Academic Flying and the Means of Communication,

Espiner, S., Higham, J.E.S., & Orchiston, C. (2019). Superseding sustainability: Conceptualising sustainability and resilience in response to the new challenges of tourism development (Chapter 3). In S.F. McCool, & K. Bosak (Eds.) A research agenda for sustainable tourism. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK.

Shrestha, S., Orchiston, C., Elwood, K., Johnston, D., Becker, J and Tomassi, I. (2022). Understanding the wider social and economic context of post-earthquake cordons: a comparative study between Christchurch, Aotearoa (New Zealand) and L’Aquila, Italy. Earthquake Spectra DOI: 10.1177/87552930221091593

Ghosh, R. C., & Orchiston, C. (2022). A systematic review of climate migration research: gaps in existing literature. SN Social Sciences, DOI 10.1007/s43545-022-00341-8

Ghosh, R. C., Orchiston, C. and Mallick, B. (2022). Climate migration studies in the Pacific (CMSP) – a bibliometric analysis. Current Research in Environmental Sustainability.

Ghosh, R. C., & Orchiston, C. (2021). Climate-induced Migration in the Pacific: The Role of New Zealand. Impact Connector: Climate Change Mitigation, Adaptation, and Impact Assessment: Views from the Pacific.

Brown, N. A., Feldmann-Jensen, S. Rovins, J. Orchiston, C. and Johnston, D. (2021). Exploring disaster resilience within the hotel sector: A case study of Wellington and Hawke's Bay New Zealand, International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, DOI

Wither, D., Orchiston, C., Cradock-Henry, N. & Nel, E. (2021). Advancing practical applications of resilience in Aotearoa-New Zealand. Ecology and Society. 26(3):1.

Shrestha, S. Orchiston, C., Elwood, K., Johnston, J. & Becker, J. (2021). To cordon or not to cordon: the inherent complexities of post-earthquake cordoning learned from Christchurch and Wellington experiences. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society of Earthquake Engineering.

Underwood, G., Orchiston, C. and Shrestha, S. (2020). Post-earthquake cordons and their implications. Earthquake Spectra.


Lake-Hammond, A., & Orchiston, C. (2024). Awareness to preparedness: A design-led approach to building resilience and readiness for the next Alpine Fault earthquake. In S. M. van Manen, C. Jaenichen, T. S. Lin, K. Kremer & R. Ramírez (Eds.), Design for emergency management. (pp. 141-156). New York, NY: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9781003306771-10

Shrestha, S. R., & Orchiston, C. H. R. (2023). Context, culture, and cordons: The feasibility of post-earthquake cordons learned through a case study in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. Earthquake Spectra. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/87552930231191740

Bray, A. C. Y., Orchiston, C. H. R., & Shrestha, S. R. (2023). Using Photovoice for disaster and hazard preparedness: A methodological review. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 93, 103742. doi: 10.1016/j.ijdrr.2023.103742

Wither, D., Orchiston, C., & Nel, E. (2023). Using the Living Standards Framework to analyse the drivers of social resilience in a disaster management context. Policy Quarterly, 19(1), 58-66. doi: 10.26686/pq.v19i1.8106

Lake-Hammond, A., & Orchiston, C. (2022). Sharing the science beneath our feet: Preparing for the next Alpine Fault earthquake. In A. V. Zernack & J. Palmer (Eds.), Geoscience Society of New Zealand Miscellaneous Publication. 161A, (pp. 159). Wellington, New Zealand: Geoscience Society of New Zealand. [Abstract]

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