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South Island earthquakes

Two principals - Tania Pringle in Seddon and Mary Gray in Kaikoura - talk about how their schools and communities have fared.

Principal of Seddon School Tania Pringle (above) says the November earthquake caused different, and in some cases, more damage to her school than the one in 2013.

“The way it behaved and moved was different. We lost 30 windows this time and in 2013, we lost three.”

She says they also lost the school’s distinctive entrance-way which had to be removed because of safety concerns.

Pringle is also president of the Marlborough Principals’ Association and was instrumental in setting up a fund for the schools in the area and families hit by financial hardship because of the earthquakes. She says it was set up knowing what the long-term effects are, having had the experience of the 2013 quakes.

“The financial stress on families is only going to increase. There are a lot of extra costs.

“Some people have lost hours or lost their jobs across the region – the fisheries are closed for example ..… the fund is to help buy books, uniforms and covering the costs of schools camps and trips, so that there is no extra pressure on families.’’

She says the schools in the area would discuss the fund, to see where the need is greatest.

She says her main message to schools is to be prepared. They had a shed dedicated to emergency equipment set up after the 2013.

“We are the civil defence post and  everything in that shed got pulled out.”

It could take up to 18 months for all the repairs in her school to be done.

She says that her staff were “an amazing team of professionals” who had stepped up to the challenge in the aftermath of the quake.

“These are phenomenal people…some staff were living in caravans and no one missed work.”

She said the Ministry of Education, NZEI and the Primary Health Organisation had been outstanding in responding to the schools’ and families’ needs.

For those wishing to contribute to the quake fund, donations should go to:

The Marlborough Schools Principals’ Association,

12-3167-0189654-50

ASB – Blenheim

 

 

Children see school as a safe haven

 Mary Gray’s school in Kaikoura fared reasonably well in the November earthquake and was seen as a safe haven by the children.

The principal of St Joseph’s School says the school is a wooden building with and iron roof, and although it “slumped a bit in places” it withstood the quakes well.

“The school was also seen as a safe place for the children as the earthquake happened in the night when they were at home so they saw school as a safe place.”

Staff at the school had been resilient and had put their own troubles aside to prioritise the children.

In the initial period after the quake, the school did shorter days and had shorter lunchbreaks as the children’s tolerance levels were low due to tiredness.

The Ministry of Education also offered psychological help and trauma counselling and these involved, among other things, teaching relaxation techniques to the children.

Around 15-20 children moved out of the area with their families after the quakes but Gray expected them to return for the 2017 school year.

She said one of the challenges for the new year would be staff being able to access Professional Development in Blenheim and Christchurch and children being able to get to sports events.

And for families facing financial hardship, Harcourt NZ had committed to buying all stationery for children in Kaikoura this year.