PACIFIC STUDENTS TACKLE TSUNAMI BUILDING DESIGN

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Mix of traditional, western methods considered

By Charlina Tone APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, July 5, 2010) - Pacific island engineering students studying in New Zealand may be pioneers in creating better building codes to withstand tsunamis.

As part of an EPICS Project (Engineering Project in Community Service) a group from the University of Auckland is in Samoa to identify the building challenges that have resulted from the 2009 disaster.

"The aim is to engage local builders, trades people and engineers to identify the major rebuilding challenges with residential areas," said Natalia Palamo, a Samoan fourth year, civil engineering student at the University of Auckland.

Focus is placed on ways to ensure they are rebuilt in a safe way, in order to reduce vulnerability to future hazards she said.

"A major part of this is encouraging local builders, trades people and engineers to combine traditional and western methods in rebuilding," she said.

Natalia is part of an ethics project made up of fellow Samoans Nadeen Papalii, Miriam Karalus and Keri Yukich who have developed ideas on reviving traditional building methods.

President of the Institute of Professional Engineers in Samoa Fonoti Perelini Perelini said this is a vital step for engineering in the future.

He believes that with the availability of resources at the University of Auckland more research can be conducted into better rebuilding methods after such disasters as the tsunami.

"A possible result would be creating a building code for the future so that infrastructure can withstand tsunamis," said Mr. Perelini.

One of the greatest concerns of the association according to Perelini is the fact that there is a building code but nothing that states anything about tsunamis.

Mr. Perelini hopes that the exchange of the overseas students with the local engineers through the Native Engineering Technology Summit will yield better rebuilding codes for any future disasters.

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