Dr Sandeeka Vamudi Mannakkara

PhD, BE (Hons.)


Sandeeka is a University of Auckland graduate, who started her career as a structural engineer and then proceeded to earn her PhD at the University of Auckland's department of civil and environmental engineering.  She specialises in post-disaster recovery and reconstruction, city resilience and climate change adaptation.  Her research work has primarily focused in the Asia-Pacific region to date.

Previous to her current position, Sandeeka worked as a research fellow in the department for a number of years.  She led and worked on the Resilient Cities Network Development Project funded by the MBIE National Science Challenge Resilience to Nature's Challenges programme, and the Build Back Better Project funded by the MBIE Natural Hazards Research Platform with Opus Research.  Sandeeka has also worked as a specialist consultant for international agencies such as the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and the Agricultural Development Association, Palestine.

Sandeeka takes a particular interest in holistic, community-focused solutions for challenges like climate change and disasters. Sandeeka developed and defined the concept of “Building Back Better” (BBB) in post-disaster reconstruction and recovery which was published in her new book "Resilient Post Disaster Recovery Through Building Back Better".  A practitioner's tool for implementing BBB in practice is available on her Build Back Better website. She is now looking at extending the concepts of BBB and resilience for climate change adaptation.  She is also working on the integration of indigenous knowledge in the development climate change adaptation solutions for New Zealand and elsewhere.

Research | Current

Climate Change Adaptation

Building Back Better

Resilient Cities

Community Resilience

Post-disaster Reconstruction and Recovery

Indigenous Knowledge for Adaptation and Resilience

Teaching | Current

DISMGT 701 - Disaster Risk Management

ENGGEN 303 - Managing Projects and Innovation

Postgraduate supervision

PhD (Current):

  1. Neeraj Shankar: Development of a Build Back Better Tool for Post-Disaster Reconstruction and Recovery (Main Supervisor)
  2. Elrasheid Elkhidir: Developing an Urban Collaboration Model for Improving Resilience in New Zealand (Main Supervisor)
  3. Rizwan Ali: Transition Governance Framework for Post-Disaster Recovery Phases (Main Supervisor)
  4. Zahra Jalali: Developing a Framework for Indigenous Knowledge-based Climate Change Adaptation (Main Supervisor)
  5. Reenate Willie: Framework for Asset Management in Kiribati with focus on Water Infrastructure (Co-Supervisor)
  6. Sameh Shamout: Urban Resilience Regarding the Energy Security Problem: A Study on the Amman Resilience Strategy (Co-Supervisor)


  • 2021 Raising the Bar Auckland Speaker
  • 2021 Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) Climate Resilience Challenge Grant Recipient
  • 2020 Faculty of Engineering Research Ideas Day $10k Seed Fund Recipient
  • 2016 Highly Commended Paper award, 2016 Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence
  • 2015 Highly Commended Paper award, 2015 Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence
  • 2013 Brooking Prize Commendation awarded for essay, Society of Construction Law Australia
  • Recipient of 2010 University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship
  • Recipient of 2004 Kick Start City of Sails Scholarship, University of Auckland
  • Recipient of 2003 Dux Award, Hamilton Girls’ High School


Departmental Graduate Advisor (AFA System), Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE)

Co-Chair, CEE Staff Student Consultative Committee (SSCC)

CEE Scholarships Coordinator

CEE Departmental Research Committee

Engineering Faculty Postgraduate Committee

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Mannakkara, S., & Wilkinson, S. (2016). Selecting an institutional mechanism for Building Back Better: Lessons from Victorian bushfires recovery. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 19, 273-279. 10.1016/j.ijdrr.2016.08.025
  • Mannakkara, S. V., Potangaroa, R., Safi, A., & AbuShaaban, R. (2016). Building back better in Gaza. Paper presented at 6th International Conference for Building Resilience, Auckland, New Zeland. 7 September - 9 September 2016. (pp. 11).
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/39028
  • Mannakkara, S., Potangaroa, R., & Wilkinson, S. (2015). Building Back Better roadmap for the rehabilitation of 310 agricultural businesses in the Gaza Strip.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/31423
  • Mannakkara, S. V., Wilkinson, S., & Francis, T. R. (2015). "Build Back Better" Principles for Reconstruction. In M. Beer, I. Kougioumtzoglou, E. Patelli, I. Siu-Kui Au (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Earthquake Engineering (pp. ). Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. 10.1007/978-3-642-36197-5_343-1
  • Mannakkara, S., & Wilkinson, S. (2015). Supporting post-disaster social recovery to build back better. International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, 6 (2), 126-139. 10.1108/IJDRBE-06-2013-0019
  • Mannakkara, S., Wilkinson, S., & Potangaroa, R. (2014). Build back better: Implementation in Victorian bushfire reconstruction. Disasters, 38 (2), 267-290. 10.1111/disa.12041
  • Wilkinsona, S., Rotimib, J. O. B., & Mannakarraa, S. (2014). Legislation Changes Following Earthquake Disasters. In M. Beer, I. A. Kougioumtzoglou, E. Patelli, I. S. Au (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Earthquake Engineering. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. 10.1007/978-3-642-36197-5_351-1
  • Mannakkara, S., & Wilkinson, S. (2014). Re-conceptualising “Building Back Better” to improve post-disaster recovery. International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, 7 (3), 327-341. 10.1108/IJMPB-10-2013-0054

Contact details

Primary office location

Level 11, Room 1139
New Zealand

Web links