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Measuring resilience: by whom and for whom? A case study of people-centred resilience indicators in New Zealand

Loïc Le Dé (Public Health, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)
Karl Wairama (Hawke's Bay Regional Council, Napier, New Zealand)
Monynna Sath (Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)
Anthony Petera (Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 9 July 2021

Issue publication date: 25 October 2021




Resilience has become a priority of most agendas for disaster risk reduction at different scales leading to an increase demand for measurement of resilience. However, resilience is mostly defined, assessed and measured by outsider experts rather than by those primarily concerned – local people. This article presents the development of people-centred indicators of resilience in New Zealand. It details both the process and outcomes of these indicators.


The study draws from participatory methods to develop a six-step tool kit for people-centred indicators of resilience. The people-centred indicators were implemented with four communities in New Zealand in 2019 and 2020.


The paper highlights that people are capable at defining and assessing their own resilience. The indicators enabled people identify and measure areas of low resilience and foster dialogue between locals and practitioners to strengthen it.

Research limitations/implications

People-centred indicators also have limitations and pose challenges. Their development requires strong facilitation skills; it limitedly enables comparison across communities and implies downward accountability.

Practical implications

The findings should stimulate discussions about who should measure resilience and for whom such measurement is it for. It provides a tool kit that can be used by practitioners and policy makers to measure and strengthen community resilience.


Most resilience indicators is outsider-driven and limitedly involves local people. This study uses a radically different approach placing people at the centre of resilience measurement.



The authors would like to acknowledge the National Emergency Management Agency who funded this research.


Le Dé, L., Wairama, K., Sath, M. and Petera, A. (2021), "Measuring resilience: by whom and for whom? A case study of people-centred resilience indicators in New Zealand", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 30 No. 4/5, pp. 538-552.



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