Quake refugees 'good for school'

19:04, Feb 21 2013
ian poulter
Ian Poulter

Bluestone School principal Ian Poulter speaks with pride when he talks about his pupils' response to earthquake refugees arriving at the school.

In the days following the earthquake, 35 children arrived at the school from Christchurch needing somewhere to go.

But it did not last long. Only four or five remain at the school.

"The other 30 or so returned to Christchurch within the two terms."

Mr Poulter travelled to Christchurch to help set up a "learning hub". The hub, one of six established around the city, was established for children from schools that were closed following the quake, "so they had some sense of normality".

"Families were in real turmoil.


"A lot of parents were going back to work but had their children to worry about. They were very grateful to get their kids back into a sense of being normal.

"The children also really needed that opportunity to be with other kids that had gone through a similar experience. They were very unsettled and very nervous.

"They needed to know life was going to go on."

The children had incredible stories from February 22, he said. "Some of them told me stories about how they had sat out on the tennis court waiting for their parents for three hours."

Some parents did not arrive as they could not get across the city. Back in Timaru, he said the school communities were wonderfully accommodating.

"Our kids realised they couldn't do much about it but what they could do was make those kids welcome. I understand from other schools that the kids in South Canterbury did that really well.

"I think it was good for them because they realised that that could have been them. It increased awareness about what they should do in an earthquake or emergency.

"They could reach out and feel that they could do something - that it wasn't a hopeless situation."

The Timaru Herald