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Christchurch Children Tell Their Story

UNICEF NZ (UN Children’s Fund)
Media Release
Thursday 6th December, 2012

Christchurch Children Tell Their Story in UNICEF NZ Photography Exhibition

Children from Christchurch are set to share their views of how the earthquakes have changed their lives and communities in a new photography exhibition organised by UNICEF NZ, ‘Christchurch: See through my eyes’. The exhibition will open to the public tomorrow (Friday, 7 December) at Christchurch Museum and run until Sunday, 27 January.

A total of 24 students aged 11-14, from 17 Christchurch schools* that were affected by the earthquakes, took part in two workshops where they learned about photography and how to tell their story. The young people then put their new skills to the test by documenting Christchurch in their own words and photos.

The children will be in attendance when the exhibition is officially launched tonight (Thursday 6th December) by Ngaire Button, the Deputy Mayor of Christchurch. The 24 photographs on display have been selected from thousands taken by the children. They are accompanied by captions written by the children themselves, adding to the impact of each image.

Dennis McKinlay, UNICEF NZ Executive Director, said “We have heard so much about the Christchurch earthquakes, yet we have heard little from the perspective of the children who have lived through these events.

“The exhibition is a pure and honest portrayal of these life changing events through the eyes of young Cantabrians. They have a unique perspective of living in an ever-changing city and it’s important to recognise and document that.”

Ngaire Button, Deputy Mayor of Christchurch, said “This photographic essay is a stunning example of contemporary storytelling for both the photographers and their subjects. The images strongly draw on the young photographers’ experience and have produced work that is empathetic while emotionally revealing.

“Christchurch is very proud of its young people for their courage to reach deep and I congratulate all of the exhibitors on their fine work.”

Jade Harrison-Best, 12, a student at South New Brighton School took part in the photography project. Her life had been shaken by last year’s devastating events: “Some of my family have moved away and I can’t get in contact with them which is sad. For a year we had to wait for our zoning (house) and it was really hard on Mum. We have moved on, we try to forget it ever happened,” said Jade.

But taking part in the photography project proved to be a positive experience for Jade. She added, “It was really fun and exciting [at the photography workshop]. My family were really proud of me. I learned a lot and made new friends.”

Other students also enjoyed the experience. Joe, 14, said, “We have studied photos of the earthquake, but this is different, it is the first time we are learning about taking our own photos of it (the earthquake),” whilst Karina, 11 added, “I am definitely looking forward to the display. It'll be a surprise to see which of my photos is up there!”

Mr McKinlay said, “UNICEF has carried out similar projects after large-scale emergencies, like the tsunami in Japan, to allow children to express how their lives have changed. We’re exceptionally proud of all the young Cantabrians who took part in this project with such passion and enthusiasm for their city.

“The images they have captured are a unique snapshot of a time in Christchurch’s history and we hope that New Zealanders, young and old, will come and view this impressive exhibition in Christchurch and also when it moves around the country.”

UNICEF NZ is grateful to UNESCO, Canon and Rotary New Zealand for providing their support to the project.

The photo essay ‘Christchurch: See through my eyes’ will be exhibited at Canterbury Museum from the 7th December to 27th January, followed by an exhibition in Wellington at St James Theatre Gallery from the 4th March to 31st March, 2013.

-ENDS-
Notes to editors
1. Available on request are additional quotes from the students and a quote from Bronwyn Hayward, Canterbury University and author of Children Citizenship and Environment: Nurturing a democratic imagination in a changing world.

2. Participating schools:
Bamford School
Catholic Cathedral College
Central New Brighton School
Christ’s College
Christchurch East School
Discovery One School
Freeville School
Kaiapoi Borough School
Kaiapoi North School
Linwood Intermediate
Manning Intermediate
Marion College
Mount Pleasant School
Our Lady of Fatima School
St Martins School
South New Brighton School
Wainoni School

About UNICEF
UNICEF is on the ground in over 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.

UNICEF is the largest emergency response agency for children and the world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries. UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.

UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

Every $1 donated to us is worth at least $10 in the field thanks to the way we work in partnership with governments, local NGOs and other partners.
www.unicef.org.nz

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