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The impact of extreme weather events on young people and their families: Evidence from Growing Up in New Zealand

Aotearoa, New Zealand, had two extreme weather events at the beginning of 2023: the Auckland Anniversary Weekend Flooding and Cyclone Gabrielle. The long-term (six-month) impact of these extreme weather events on rangatahi/young people and their whānau/families is investigated in this report.

Extreme weather events can have negative impacts on important services and property, infrastructure, access to health care, community networks and mental and physical health. They can also cause destruction to properties. These effects can persist for months or even years. Those exposed to severe weather conditions are at risk of injury, disease, and worsening of chronic illnesses. Furthermore, in Aotearoa, New Zealand, low-income households are disproportionately affected by severe weather.

Rangatahi/young people may be particularly vulnerable during an extreme weather event as important developmental processes occur during adolescence, including biological, hormonal, and brain changes. These changes can mean that young people feel less able to cope with stress and uncertainty. During an emergency, young people may feel they have little control over what is happening around them. Therefore, family and community support are very important during extreme weather events, especially for rangatahi.

Growing Up in New Zealand asked rangatahi/young people, aged 13-14 years and their mothers/primary caregivers about their experiences during and after the floods and/or cyclone. These extreme weather events occurred at the start of the 2023 school year, which may have disrupted educational experiences, and damage to infrastructure and housing may have impacted social connectedness and access to health and social services. This report outlines our findings.

Funding

Crown funding managed by Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

History

Publisher

Growing Up in New Zealand. University of Auckland

Spatial coverage

New Zealand

Temporal coverage: start

2023-08-01

Temporal coverage: end

2023-09-03

Data Collection Wave

DCWEWE (Extreme Weather Event Survey)