Engagement and participation are terms used to describe important processes in a democratic society. However, the definition and understanding of these terms is broad and varied. In a disaster context, community engagement and participation are recognised as important processes to support individual and community recovery. What these terms mean, who is responsible for leading engagement, and the processes that are to be used, are important issues that need to be clarified at the onset of recovery, if not before. Despite this, there are often barriers to community members being involved in the recovery process as active and valued participants. These include governance structures that do not adequately recognise the spectrum of community engagement and the power dynamics of information sharing and decision-making. This article discusses two New Zealand case studies where engagement activities were put in place to contribute to the communities’ post disaster recovery.
New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 2011, 40 (4: Special Issue with emphasis on research and practice in the months of earthquakes in Canterbury, New Zealand, from September 2010), pp. 17 - 25