Disasters activities

Page 8 – People on the spot

Use the topics in the Disasters category of NZHistory.net.nz  for the following activity ideas.

An important skill to develop when looking at events from the past is to somehow put yourself in someone else’s position to try and understand why they behaved as they did. What might you have done differently? What must it have felt like to be involved in some way? This often involves considering a range of perspectives about what happened and why it happened.

The following individuals or groups will have had different perspectives on what happened and how they felt about it or how it affected them:

  • survivors
  • search and rescue
  • crew and staff
  • those involved in the recovery and identification of bodies
  • the funeral directors
  • family and loved ones
  • AirNew Zealandstaff and management
  • those responsible for the inquiries

A. Select a disaster from NZHistory.net.nz and allocate a different character to each student. This could be done as a whole class or in smaller groups. The aim is for each student to describe what happened from the perspective of their character. It could be appropriate to set this task some time after the event so as to give them an opportunity to consider medium to longer term reactions and feelings. Or you may wish to set it in the timeframe of the event itself. They are to try and convey some sense of how they felt about the situation at the time. . If the setting is after the inquiry into the event it would be appropriate for them to describe how they felt about the results of the inquiry and whether they agree with these or not.

B. There are many ways you could explore these different perspectives. For example: 

  • Via a diary entry by an associated character
  • By assuming the role of an associated character in an inquiry setting
  • By assuming the role of an associated character in an interview for a TV or radio broadcast
  • As part of a conversation at a reunion of survivors
  • With younger students you could get the whole class to consider the perspective of a survivor from the Wahine and work through the reactions and perspectives together as a class
  • Prepare 5 questions to ask someone involved in this disaster and then write the answers you think you would get from that person. Write it up as an interview. Make sure you introduce the survivor.

Allow time or opportunities for your students to share their different perspectives with each other or the class.

How to cite this page

'People on the spot', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/classroom/social-studies/disasters/people-on-the-spot, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 12-Jul-2017