Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Vulnerability and Resilience to Natural Hazards among New Zealand’s Laotians

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posted on 2023-02-02, 16:49 authored by Konemixay, Vannaly

Linguistic and cultural minorities such as migrants and refugees are particularly more vulnerable to natural hazards than the general population. Laotian New Zealanders are one such group who are not only a cultural minority but are numerically a very small group in New Zealand. Minority groups such as Laotian New Zealanders may lack capital assets to sustain their livelihoods, hence might find it more difficult to build resilience to natural disasters. Therefore, this thesis explores these twin issues of vulnerability and resilience through a Sustainable Livelihood Approach (SLA). SLA is a commonly used as a framework that analyzes human, social, natural, physical and financial capital. Using SLA I examined how such a framework can identify vulnerabilities felt by Laotian New Zealanders amidst natural hazards and how SLA can help build resilience during times of natural disasters. By employing a qualitative research approach, semi-structured interviews were carried out with 25 Laotian New Zealanders. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most interviews were conducted online and digitally recorded. By applying a thematic analysis main themes were identified and analysis was conducted using these themes as well as a review of government policy documents.

Study results revealed that Laotian participants feel vulnerable due to language barriers and cultural discrimination. At the same time, they feel resilient since they possess some form of human, financial, physical and social capital to sustain their livelihood. These include savings, insurance, strong family and community supports, and government support. These juxtaposing ideas led me to conclude that Laotian New Zealanders seem to be both vulnerable and resilient amidst natural disasters in New Zealand.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License


Degree Discipline

Environmental Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Environmental Studies

Victoria University of Wellington Unit

Institute of Geography

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

190201 Consumption patterns, population issues and the environment

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

1 Pure basic research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Lo, Alex