Te Karaka students dealing with trauma as school year begins

Wed, Mar 8

Cyclone Gabrielle has severely disrupted the start of the school year for many students, but teachers are trying new methods to help them deal with the trauma.

That's the case at Te Karaka Area School outside Gisborne, where nearly half its 100 pupils were forced out of their homes. Many still can't go home.

"For me it was scary watching the water start pouring in, watching our whole town go underwater," Owen Roberts, a student at the school, told 1News.

"I know it's ratchet and everything, but it is what it is. Still gotta deal with it."

Another student, Kayeson, is staying at the house of the local police officer.

"My bed's on the ground at the moment, on the carpet.

"I don't want to go through it again but it's pretty much mother nature."

Eight-year-old Alex showed 1News what helps him get through.

His picture of an aircraft carrier fighting off giant red birds takes his mind off bad times.

Staff say the students talk a lot about the cyclone, and they're trying to turn that into a positive.

It rained when 1News visited the school, prompting one student to rush into the staffroom to ask if the school would flood. Teachers let him have his say, assured him it wouldn't and suggested he do some drawing.

Owen's father Patrick said the support from the school had been amazing, and Owen said they'd love to give back the same support, but don't know how to do it.

The biggest lesson, to look after yourself, long after the clouds have gone.


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