Category Archives: Earthquake

Site-Sharing Day Two.

One of the benefits of site-sharing is an increase in the range of subjects available. Once morning classes are finished, students at the Co-ed School have the option of picking up afternoon classes in subjects that were not previously offered at their school.

The Girls’ School teaches Latin. Should the Co-ed School really have been as surprised as they were¬†by the massive upswing of interest in Year 11 Latin. By Year 11 boys. I mean, honestly? Come on!



Filed under Earthquake, School

Site Sharing – Day One.

High school staffrooms are generally self-sufficent places. Even in a city as small as Christchurch, it would be fair to say that there is not a lot of mixing between schools. Departments are big enough to run their own professional development and socialising with people from your own school is the norm. So I wasn’t surprised when I saw the staff list from the Girls School and I didn’t know a single person on it.

Friday was the first day of joint after-school ‘staff meetings’. Friday staff meetings usually start at 3.01pm when the bar opens but because of half days, the staff meeting was up and running at 12.31pm! By the time I arrived at 3.31pm, the meeting was in full swing. The bar staff were awaiting a delivery from the local bottle store, the bar having already been drunk dry twice. I was lucky enough to get some of the strawberry Lindauer left over from Christmas…

Because it was St Patricks Day, most people were dressed in green and the music was pure Irish. The staff band, bolstered by an enthusiastic drummer and a vocalist from the Girls’ School who could actually sing, were taking requests. Pizzas arrived, paid for by the staff of Botany Downs High School in Auckland who had dipped into their own pockets and sent a cheque.

By 6pm, the stayers had a drink in one hand and a tambourine in the other and were rocking out enthusastically to The Pogues. When a stranger leaned over the bar, he was asked convivially what he’d like. “The room actually” said the stranger. “I have a lecture starting in here in ten minutes.” We looked out of the first storey window and saw the car park filling with ten-speed riding teenager-strangers. Whoops. Must have missed that memo about staffroom-sharing with the University as well.

The bar closed abruptly, the band packed up and carried their gear downstairs and the pizza boxes were hurriedly toted to the skip. Tables wiped and chairs arranged neatly, the UC engineering students with their back packs and lecture notes began filing quietly in. And we finished the song in the car park. It was a brilliant way to start off the site-sharing year.

Then the ship struck a rock
Oh Lord! what a shock
The bulkhead was turned right over
Turned nine times around
And the poor old dog was drowned (1,2,3!)
I’m the last of The Irish Rover!


Filed under Earthquake, School


We have been overwhelmed with love here at school. Care packages keep arriving from all over the country. Cases of bottled water from a school down south. Packed lunches from a school in Auckland. A box of board games from Nelson – what a great idea, Room 23 have been having fun with those. And so many cards and letters and paintings. This arrived in a parcel from Coromandel Area School and is now on the wall in my classroom.

Thanks Jayden, I do love it. It’s simply the most fabulous painting anyone has given me this year.


Filed under Earthquake, School


Look, while we were away, the trees around school went and turned into autumn.

First full day of school today and most students have come back. Many were at other schools around the country and without exception they tell how kind their caretaker classes were. They’ve brought back books and cards and letters from complete strangers, expressing sorrow and wishing us well. Some have even returned with cheques, money raised by mufti days and bake sales and coin trails. The kids here are universally touched but also find it hard to understand why someone a thousand miles away should be concerned about them. I try to explain the moral principle of caring about the welfare of others but they stare at me blankly. “They’re sad for you” I say “And they’re glad it’s not them.” Sighs and nods. And while the kids are back at school, they’re not really ‘back’ yet. Fragile, subdued, gazing wistfully into space. I call a name twice before the head slowly swivels to face me. I see in her eyes something I can’t describe, it’s a sort of hopelessness that was never there before. So I tell a stupid joke and they all giggle a bit. Then Sam tells about the hedgehog that fell down his backyard loo and giggles turn to laughter. Then Laura mimes her grandma using a chemical toilet and the class is howling and wiping the tears from their eyes. Potty humour. Works every time. “So are we going to get these bags done or what Miss?” asks Zach and suddenly school is back on and things start to feel just a little bit more normal.


Filed under Earthquake, School


It’s the silliest things that set me off. Here I am, sitting in Auckland, waiting and waiting to fly standby home to Christchurch. It’s been a long day, likely to be even longer by the time we make it onto a plane. I have a staff meeting tomorrow morning at 9.

And then I see the reason we have been bumped again. A long line of men dressed in Los Angeles Fire Department Search and Rescue uniforms heading determinedly towards Gate 32. That’s the flight leaving for Christchurch. The departure lounge breaks into spontaneous applause. The tears are hard to stop.


Filed under Earthquake, Family


The raucousness of the laughter is directly proportional to the silliness of the card game.

It’s also the measure of a good nights sleep, the distraction of an unfamiliar environment and the joy which small people are beginning to find again in their everyday.

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Filed under Earthquake, Family


Sophie is not the only one learning new tricks.

It’s sweet to watch this young man carefully crafting cups of coffee, playing with roasts and temperatures and proportions of foam like a giant chemistry experiment. Particularly as he doesn’t even like the stuff.

I had a coffee in a cafe this afternoon. It was almost as good as James’.


Filed under Earthquake, Family, James