|dc.description.abstract||New Zealand’s susceptibility to experiencing damaging earthquakes makes managing
the associated risk a societal imperative. A prominent component of earthquake risk
management is fostering household earthquake preparedness. This involves
encouraging people to acquire survival items (e.g. food, water, torches, and other
essential items), implement mitigation measures (e.g. retrofit buildings), make
emergency plans, learn survival skills and engage in socially-based preparedness
Despite considerable effort and expenditure incurred by emergency management to
encourage such activities, levels of overall preparedness remain low in New Zealand.
This identifies a need for more effective earthquake education programmes. To develop
more effective programmes, it is important to understand how people make sense of
hazards and make decisions about how to manage the associated risk.
One particular gap in current understanding relates to how individuals render
earthquake hazard and preparedness information meaningful and how this influences
actual preparedness. In particular, questions remain about how individual, community
and societal factors interact to influence how people interpret risk and decide whether to
prepare or not.
This thesis explores the earthquake information meaning-making and preparedness
processes. A series of qualitative interviews using grounded theory methodology was
undertaken in 2008 with household residents in three New Zealand locations at risk of
earthquakes. The interviews explored personal, community and societal influences on
how people interpret and impose meaning on earthquake information and how the
outcome of this process relates to undertaking actual preparedness actions.
Three main types of information were identified: passive; interactive; and experiential
information. Each type of information makes unique contributions to the interpretation
and preparedness process. Passive information has a more restricted effect, and
interactive and experiential information a wider-ranging effect. People utilise all these
types of information when interpreting and making meaning of hazard and preparedness
issues. Consequently, future earthquake education programmes should accommodate
passive, interactive and experiential information in their design and implementation.
In making meaning of information, and making decisions about whether to prepare or
not, a number of aspects were found to be important to the overall process including:
raising awareness and knowledge of earthquakes and preparedness; understanding
earthquake consequences; stimulating thought and discussion; developing skills;
information seeking; salient beliefs; emotions and feelings; societal influences;
intentions to prepare; and resource issues. Key societal influences on meaning-making
and preparedness include: community (community participation, sense of community);
leadership; responsibility (responsibility for preparing, responsibility for others); social
norms; trust; and societal requirements. Earthquake education programmes also need to
take such factors into account in their design.||en