The 22 February 2011 series of earthquakes that devastated large parts of the Canterbury region of New Zealand provides the dramatic backdrop to this paper, which explores the manner in which schools responded and recovered from the quakes. Drawing on interviews held 18 months later with principals, teachers and students, practical suggestions for how schools can manage risk, and prepare for future similar events are made. The manner in which schools altered, and in particular, the roles principals took, are examined. Finally, the central importance of care and love in schools in the quake-affected areas is considered.
A qualitative research design using narrative enquiry approaches was used to capture the stories of principals, teachers, and students who had experienced both the earthquakes, and the recovery period following the trauma. Semi-structured interviews with participants were held over a period of days.
The importance of being prepared for natural disasters is paramount for all New Zealanders in order to ensure health, safety, and cohesion on the day of an earthquake. However, the research reveals there is significance in having secure, meaningful, and honest relationships with school students to help raise the well-being of all affected by natural disasters.
The paper continues to look at a pedagogy of love and care as a vital way to support, encourage, and aid children through their trauma and grief which continues long after the earthquake.
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