The University of Canterbury is offering scholarships to help inspire research into the effects of the devastating 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes, focusing on the lessons learned from the disaster response.

UC Canterbury Earthquakes Digital Archive (CEISMIC) director Professor Paul Millar is concerned that as time wears on vital information about the response and recovery is being "irretrievably lost".

The first four scholarships, funded by The Canterbury Community Trust, will support masters' students to research and write on aspects of the quake response and recovery.

Successful applicants will have their fees paid and receive a stipend of $12,000 to support them through a year of study.

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"Many people outside Canterbury assume that five years after the earthquakes began we know all there is to know," Mr Millar said. "Cantabrians know we still have a long way to go with recovery, and many people can tell of important information being lost as people move on and situations change."

Topics for the first scholarships will include the way many activist organisations like Greening the Rubble and CanCERN sprang up after the quakes, as well as the impact the quakes had on the resilience, connections and networks of families in the Aranui High School zone.

Research will also look at the lessons of more effective disaster management strategies for local cultural institutions and the experiences of temporary migrant labourers who came for the rebuild.