Recovering from the earthquake

Amanda Bateman (Faculty of Education, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand)
Susan Danby (Faculty of Education, School of Early Childhood, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Publication date: 11 November 2013



Traumatic events can cause post-traumatic stress disorder due to the severity of the often unexpected events. The purpose of this paper is to reveal how conversations around lived experiences of traumatic events, such as the Christchurch earthquake in February 2011, can work as a strategy for people to come to terms with their experiences collaboratively. By encouraging young children to recall and tell of their earthquake stories with their early childhood teachers they can begin to respond, renew, and recover (Brown, 2012), and prevent or minimise more stress being developed.


The study involved collecting data of the participating children taking turns to wear a wireless microphone where their interactions with each other and with teachers were video recorded over one week in November 2011. A total of eight hours and 21 minutes of footage was collected; four minutes and 19 seconds of that footage are presented and analysed in this paper. The footage was watched repeatedly and transcribed using conversation analysis methods (Sacks, 1995).


Through analysing the detailed turn-taking utterances between teachers and children, the orderliness of the co-production of remembering is revealed to demonstrate that each member orients to being in agreement about what actually happened. These episodes of story telling between the teachers and children demonstrate how the teachers encourage the children to tell about their experiences through actively engaging in conversations with them about the earthquake.


The conversation analysis approach used in this research was found to be useful in investigating aspects of disasters that the participants themselves remember as important and real. This approach offers a unique insight into understanding how the earthquake event was experienced and reflected on by young children and their teachers, and so can inform future policy and provision in post-disaster situations.



The authors would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff, children and family members from New Brighton Preschool for being involved in this project and for their time and generosity.


Bateman, A. and Danby, S. (2013), "Recovering from the earthquake", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 22 No. 5, pp. 467-479.

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