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Dr Lyn Carter

Climate change and its associated natural disasters are of unparalleled concern to Pacific nations, placing them squarely in the middle of Dr Lyn Carter’s (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Mamoe, Waitaha and Te Rapuwai) research interests within the University of Otago’s Te Tumu - School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies.

Lyn explains, “I am interested in the social impact of climate change on the governance and identity with cultural landscapes. I’ve been looking at peoples’ perception of home and what that meant when having to move from that place because of environmental change or disaster.”

Lyn - rail

This year holds three major projects for Lyn, all involving climate change and its effects on Indigenous peoples.

Her research into Māori and mining led to a joint-authored on-line book published in October 2013 that provides information on the challenges facing Maori and other Indigenous peoples from mining. Lyn’s ongoing research scrutinises the link between climate change and fossil fuels, and the strategies used by Indigenous peoples around the world when confronted by mining in their homeland, and what Māori can learn from that.

Lyn - profile

Lyn has another book project underway in collaboration with Te Tumu Associate Professor Jenny Bryant-Tokalau and University of Otago Press. It examines climate change mitigation across the Pacific over the last 30 years to see what New Zealand as a Pacific Island can learn from an Indigenous perspective and knowledge framework.

Lyn says, “When you look into it, Indigenous Pacific nations are adapting using measures specifically from their own knowledge framework, including the manner in which they form partnerships with other communities, such as scientific and technological organisations.”

A third project deepens Lyn’s four year relationship with Professor Nils Helander and Associate Professor Kaisa Helander of Sami University College in Koutokeino, Norway. With their assistance, Lyn is researching the politics of place naming there.

“Place names open up stories of how that place came to be named and increases your knowledge and familiarity with that place. Environmental disaster changes that place you have always known in a specific way; your knowledge can be used to inform the way you adapt to change there, and how you may protect and restore it.”