In Room Nine at Seddon School and students are learning about emergency preparedness. The school is one of several primary schools and early childhood centres across Marlborough Red Cross visits to deliver its ‘Kiri and the Emergency’ programme. 

Kiri and the Emergency is a picture book that helps children learn what to do in an emergency. It’s a way to make sure even the youngest whānau members are prepared for an emergency and to also help children keep calm during emergency situations. 

It's strikes a number of chords considering scaffolding and temporary fences surround a block of classrooms at Seddon as a team of builders is working to repair damage caused by the November 2016 earthquake, almost 18 months after the event.

It’s not just the buildings that were affected. Seddon School Principal Tania Pringle says children are still showing signs of stress and anxiety.

“People think, after three or four months, oh, that event’s over, and done and dusted. For people recovering, it’s a lifetime. It’s a new normal. It’s just how life is now. It’s not going to go back to one minute past twelve — this is just how it is.”

Tania says ‘Kiri and the Emergency’ complements other support systems at the school, which include mindfulness, music therapy and counselling.

“We only have the children for six hours a day. Children will hold themselves together to come to school but their parents wear it, so being able to provide them with some tools and some resources has been really helpful. And parents really enjoy the storybook — it’s a relatable thing and it’s really easy to use as a support.”