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When disaster strikes - what's your story?'

Media release
1 August 2005

When disaster strikes - what's your story?'

Dave Robertson of Edgecumbe was balanced on a plank between two six foot stepladders, painting a sign above the butcher's shop in Te Teko, when the 1987 earthquake struck. It arrived with 'a roar like an express train'.

"I saw the corrugated iron fence next to the shop blow out and shoot across the road. My stepladders started to move and fall. All I could think of as I was going down was, if you spill the paint you'll have to clean it up. I carefully fell on top of the butcher who was coming out of the shop, and then laid the pot of paint down on the ground - without spilling a drop."

If you've experienced a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, flood, volcanic eruption, tsunami or a landslide then Te Ara, the encyclopedia of New Zealand is interested in your story.

"We are working on the second theme of Te Ara 'Earth, Sea and Sky', which explores the shaping forces of New Zealand's natural environment and we want to include some first hand accounts of natural disasters in this country," said Jock Phillips, General Editor of Te Ara.

"Community involvement is one of the great strengths of Te Ara and its continuing development, giving the encyclopedia a distinctly New Zealand voice."

Also interested in using the contributions is the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS), who research and advise on the social impact of natural disasters.

"Te Ara will put the best of the stories online in the next theme, but all the contributions will be passed on to GNS to use in their research and publish in a science report which will be available to the public," said Jock Phillips.

Stories from individuals or families are a valuable resource for scientists, said GNS Hazards Scientist David Johnston.

"They improve our understanding of the impacts of natural hazards on communities and that helps us to make better preparations for the future," Dr Johnston said.

Space for something from GNS

Accounts of disaster experiences should be around 500 words and the inclusion of supporting photographs would be useful. Contributions need to be received by Friday 16 September 2005.

Te Ara is the world's first national online encyclopedia and it will be published progressively in themes over the next seven years.

Full details on how to submit your story can be found in the Te Ara News section at

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