Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Social impact of the 2004 Manawatu floods and the 'hollowing out' of rural New Zealand

Smith, Willie; Davies-Colley, Christian; Mackay, Alec; Bankoff, Greg


Willie Smith

Christian Davies-Colley

Alec Mackay

Greg Bankoff


The Manawatu floods of 2004 have had significant, long-lasting social consequences. This paper draws on findings from a series of detailed surveys of 39 farm households directly affected by the floods and 17 individuals directly involved in managing the flood recovery programme. The nature of the impact on rural families highlights how the 'hollowing out' of rural New Zealand has changed the capacity of rural communities to respond to natural hazards and increased their sense of isolation. In addition, the floods exposed the vulnerability of rural communities. This is shown to have implications for policies designed to build resilience and improve responses to adverse events, including the need to support local, community initiatives on self-reliance and mutual support. Approaches to manage better long-term flood risks should be designed within a context of ongoing rural decline that has compromised the health of both individuals and communities.


Smith, W., Davies-Colley, C., Mackay, A., & Bankoff, G. (2011). Social impact of the 2004 Manawatu floods and the 'hollowing out' of rural New Zealand. Disasters, 35(3), 540-553.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 1, 2010
Online Publication Date Jan 27, 2011
Publication Date Jul 1, 2011
Deposit Date Jul 13, 2018
Print ISSN 0361-3666
Electronic ISSN 1467-7717
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 35
Issue 3
Pages 540-553
Keywords Floods; Hollowing out; New Zealand; Resilience; Social impact; Disasters; Vulnerability; Philippines
Public URL
Publisher URL