Page 1 – Introduction

There have been a number of accidents in New Zealand history which due to their magnitude and loss of life can be described as disasters or tragedies. NZHistory.net.nz looks at several of these events including:

A New Zealand disasters timeline is also available which teachers could use should they wish to explore other New Zealand disasters.

These particular disasters involved substantial loss of life and had a far-reaching impact on the nation. These features provide teachers and students with an opportunity to look not only at what happened but, more importantly, how the wider community reacted to these disasters. What lessons were learnt to ensure such accidents can be avoided in the future?

The activities that have been developed to support these features (see navagation on right) are deliberately general in nature so as to allow them to be easily adapted for all levels of the curriculum. While they have a social sciences focus, language teachers will find the contexts useful for writing and presentation activities.

A note of caution

A single life lost in an accident is a tragedy for the family and friends involved. Studies like these can always throw up an unexpected response. Some students may have experienced a death in their family recently and a unit on disasters could trigger a reaction. Some might have a family association with one of the disasters studied. Obviously there is the need to use your professional judgement here and you will know your class well enough to know where to go with this topic. Students need to be reminded that these are real events that involved real people. As such there is the need to demonstrate respect and understanding to avoid offending classmates.

How to cite this page

'New Zealand disasters activities', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/classroom/social-studies/disasters, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 12-Jul-2017