Edgecumbe Primary prepared for students' return

By Heeni Brown

Edgecumbe Primary has around 200 students on its roll and an estimated 90% of those students live in the flood zone.

Edgecumbe Primary School principal Kahu Walker says, "That just has an effect on children getting to school. I would probably see absent rates rise as a result. Things like that aren't going to help students achievement at all."

While absence rates are expected to rise, Principal Kahu Walker is confident his school has the facilities to lift those students affected by the flood.

Walker says, "We've got an intensive wrap around service between the Ministry of Education, Ngāti Awa Social and Health Service providers and social workers in schools RTLB. So we've put processes in place where we'll share their stories and tautoko our tamariki."

Last month, close to 2000 residents in the town were evacuated from their homes as water broke through a breach in the Rangitaiki River stopbank.

Following the flood there has also been a spate of incidents where homes in Edgecumbe were looted, Walker says it's a sign of desperate times.

Walker says, "It would always be nice, the more support we can get around our community the better. I'm not sure as in the Council's role but the Police are being proactive when they need to but community themselves have stepped up and started their own neighbourhood watch process."

Walker says while it's going to take a long time to get over but is determined to get it right.

Walker has been at the helm of the school for two years and a member of the community for more than 20 years. 

"There are plenty of wrap around social and health services like NASH, Ngāti Awa Social Health Services Trust who have been putting on lunches for schools," Walker says. 

Walker isn't sure how many will be coming back for Term 2 but wants families reassured that the school is here to help.

"There's trauma teams and services from the Ministry of Education as well," Walker adds.