Civil Defence Students Get Involved on the Flood-Hit Coast.

by Bree Arnott

Students on the Civil Defence Emergency Response (CDER) Programme with Whenua Iti Outdoors have just had an amazing experience on Te Tai Poutini/West Coast where they have spent the week connecting in with volunteers, LandSAR & Buller Civil Defence to learn first-hand about the huge coordinated response that is underway to the devastating flooding that hit the area.

Their visit was timely, as many volunteers have had to return to their normal lives, yet there is still a lot of clean-up needed. Students spent time learning from Civil Defence Controller Sean Judd and Emergency Response Manager Erica Andrews, who outlined the logistics of such an operation, giving an overview of the response so far. The following day they headed to the volunteer hub to help with the removal of flood damaged household items & carpets from the houses of elderly and vulnerable members of the community.

Kathryn Bunckenburg was the lead instructor working with these students as part of one of the fully funded Trades Academy Programmes that WIO run. The CDER Programme allows students to earn necessary NCEA L3 credits while undertaking practical, hands-on learning activities during week-long programmes, experiencing  simulated emergency exercises and gaining essential rope skills & techniques used in emergency outdoors situations. This opportunity was perfect for our students to learn from, and contribute to, an actual response.

This programme includes students from across the Top of the South Island, including Greymouth High School and Westland High School. “The students were amazing, and the volunteers we worked with were incredible,” says Kathryn. “They worked really hard clearing contaminated items from people’s property, and I could see how committed they were to helping out. It was such a great experience for them – thanks to everyone on the coast who made it happen and made our students feel so welcome.”

“I believe one of the strengths in our programming at Whenua Iti is being able to respond to opportunities when they arise for our students to learn through experiencing real situations. Earlier this year our Environmental Science students helped with a whale rescue in Golden Bay, and now to be able to send our students to help on the coast, well, what better learning is there?” says Mark Bruce-Miller, General Manager of WIO.

A huge shout out to the amazing volunteers and members of the response team who were truly inspirational to our students! They have taken away so much from this experience.

A special thanks to Sean Judd & Erica Andrews for sharing their mahi with us.

Want to find out more about a programme or have a question for us? Talk to one of our friendly team - we're happy to help.