NNA News for civil society

New Zealand Waldorf schools get off lightly after earthquake

Mon, 21 Nov 2016 | By NNA South Pacific correspondent Vee Noble

After the massive earthquake a week ago, Waldorf schools are thankful that they suffered comparatively little damage – in contrast to the 2011 earthquake. Milmore Downs biodynamic farm did not fare so well.


Massive cracks make the roads impassable at the top of the Hunderlee Hills on Highway One between Christchurch and Kaikoura.
Photo: Nigel Spiers / Shutterstock.com

A week ago the people of New Zealand were once again jolted out of their every-day lives by another massive earthquake following the major quake in 2011. At that time the Christchurch Rudolf Steiner School was particularly badly affected. NNA South Pacific correspondent Vee Noble investigates how anthroposophical institutions have fared this time round.

CHRISTCHURCH (NNA) – At 12.02 in the morning on Monday 14 November a magnitude 7.8 earthquake, centred on Leithfield in the South island, rocked both islands causing large scale damage and taking thousands from their beds with the following tsunami warning.

The greatest damage, including two deaths, was in the tourist centre of Kaikoura which is still completely cut off. The initial quake and the ongoing after-shocks continue to affect people from Christchurch to Wellington.

Motueka Rudolf Steiner School did a full survey of their buildings on that Monday. Fortunately there was no evident structural damage and school resumed on Tuesday. They did identify several earthquake potential hazards which could possibly cause damage in further shakes but these have now all been secured.

One of the teachers, Warwick Sandler, reported that everyone in the community is holding out well and at this stage all is fine with staff and children.

“Longest quake”

Residents in Christchurch and other parts of the Canterbury province were strongly reminded of the devastating 2011 earthquakes, from which they are still recovering.

Thomas Proctor from the Christchurch Rudolf Steiner School, speaking about this latest quake, told NNA: “When we were woken at 12:02 in the morning on Monday by the longest quake I can remember, even longer than anything in the 2011 quake, we were very worried that it was building to be a huge jolt. It was, however, the shaking from the enormous 7.8 quake in Kaikoura to the north of us.

“By two in the morning most of the people in New Brighton were evacuating. I closed the school on the following day for structural checks on the buildings and everything was fine. Apart from emotional remembrance of the last 16,000 aftershocks, there has been little effect on the children at the school or on staff or parents.”

Proctor added: “We are all okay. It's totally tragic what has occurred in Kaikoura though. I do remember, however, the enormous outpouring of warmth and kindness from the international Steiner Schools and anthroposophical community to us at that last earthquake and would like to express our gratitude for that support.” 

Now it was Christchurch’s turn to assist, Proctor said, and the school would be getting fundraising underway to assist the Kaikoura people.

Damage

Ian Henderson of the Milmore Downs Biodynamic farm in Northern Canterbury was nearer the epicentre and has not fared so well. Two specialised grain silos collapsed in the quake and this on top of severe drought over the last four years for the farm.

The capital city of Wellington also sustained major damage to buildings and torrential rains causing flooding the day after the quake added to the area’s problems. Raphael House School, an integrated Steiner/Waldorf school which also caters for special needs students, fortunately has no damage from either the quake or the torrential rain.

Many families, though, have been and continue to be disturbed by the shakes and aftershocks.

The resilience and caring of New Zealanders is ever more apparent at these times of natural disaster and the anthroposophical community and Waldorf schools continue to support those in need as New Zealand continues to live up to its nickname as the Shaky Isles.

END/nna/vn

Item: 161121-02EN Date: 21 November 2016

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