National | Gisborne

Kura teachers' tsunami plan: “Sit on rooftops and wait”

A Gisborne kura kaupapa teacher is saying that should a tsunami hit their school, their only option is to sit on top of their classrooms and wait for the water to subside.

They are calling on the government to do more to make their schools safer.

This comes as the tsunami inundation evacuation report released by the Gisborne District Council in December.

Teacher Rongomai Smith and tauira. Photo / File

Rongomai Smith who teaches at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hawaiki Hou is hoping for a comprehensive plan by Government to ensure their students are safe.

“Our strategy right now is taking refuge at the top of the building," he says.

TKKM o Hawaiki Hou has an enrolment of over 70 students from primary to intermediate. The premises which the school operates from is the old Gisborne District Council building.

Tauira assemble in main room at school premise. Photo / File

However, since the release of the Tsunami Inundation Evacuation report by local government, business, residents and schools such as Hawaiki Hou located in the red zone area was considered a huge threat in the event of a tsunami or tai aniwhaniwha.

The Gisborne District Council's updated report on the Tsunami Evacuation Areas was due for completion in February 2020.

GNS Science completed the report ahead of schedule. It is not known whether the report was completed early because of Whakaari eruption that December.

The red and orange zones indicated tsunami risks from near or far, yellow indicates the inundation generated from an 8.9 earthquake within the local Hikurangi Subduction Zone. In the event of a tsunami, you only have 15 minutes to evacuate before the surge’s come.

Hawaiki Hou teachers have been educating their students how to respond during an earthquake, fire and tsunami.

However, the school aims to provide food and supplies during natural disasters in a 72 hour period.

Minister for Civil Defense and Emergency Management Peeni Henare told Te Ao Maori News talks ‘continue’ as government look towards a plan that will support schools and kura throughout the Tairawhiti region.

“Our office has been working towards a plan to ensure our kids are safe,” Minister Henare explains.

Tolaga Bay Area School in Uawa is also situated close to their river and beach and are now proactively conducting evacuation drills for their 300 students.

Tumuaki Nori Parata believes governments support will be a far cry from home. However, whanau have pitched to help orchestra the best scenario for their tamariki.

In Tūranga, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Horouta Wānanga school tumuaki Brucenna Nohotima is also looking ahead. Avenues with government could be helpful, however, more transparency is needed in terms of a plan going forward.

The agenda for schools in the event of a tai aniwhaniwha is ensuring that kids are sheltered with food and supplies.

Rongomai from Hawaiki Hou told Te Ao Maori News, “Our wider family will continue to support the call among our teachers if we were wanting supplies such as blankets, food etc. But my plea is to the government and what they can do to help us.”

The Ministry of Education also wants to work closely with emergency services to support the response for the education sector that will coincide with the inundation report from council’s objectives.

However, they can only support kura and early learning services such as Kohanga Reo with an emergency management planning ‘with guidance and a template they can use to help develop their own plans’, Katrina Casey Deputy Secretary Sector Enablement and Support says.