A well-researched read, Charlie Kaval Wilding
July 20, 2021
New Zealand Disasters: Our response, resilience and recovery is written by Maria Gill and illustrated by Marco Ivancic, and is a finalist in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. A book like this requires a lot of research because it is full of true facts. Ms. Gill got help from a lot of people and places to get all the information right, like the National Emergency Management Agency and GNS Science and Dr Gill Jolly.
I really enjoyed this book. It taught me a lot about some disasters I knew about and some that I didn’t. One I didn’t know about was the Tangiwai Disaster, which happened in 1953. People were travelling on the train from Wellington Auckland on the 24th of December. The crater lake on Mt Ruapehu spewed tons of water downhill. This caused a lahar, which is a mudflow from a volcano that is destructive. It destroyed the piers of the rail bridge, so when the huge train drove over it, there was no support, and many of the train cars fell into the river below. Sadly, 151 people were killed. But 134 of the train’s passengers survived. The people that escaped helped other people to get out. Soldiers, rail workers and forestry workers also came to help and formed a human chain to help people get out. Because of this disaster, the country does things differently. One thing they do is monitor the crater lake levels and river flooding. There is also emergency equipment on trains now.
There is so much information in this book. There are at least 20 disasters that I never even knew about. It has stuff from earthquakes to tsunamis to snow blizzards, plane crashes, fires and pandemics. This book has helped me learn about how many things have changed since before I was born and how so many things are done differently now because of these disasters. This makes the country safer to the people that live here and the visitors.
One of the disasters that I found most interesting was the Mt Erebus plane crash in Antarctica, in 1979. An Air New Zealand DC-10 plane took off from New Zealand to Antarctica for a loop flight so the passengers to see the continent. The pilot requested permission to fly to 610 meters above the ground and was given the okay. He thought it was flat ground, but, unfortunately, there was a mountain in the way. They couldn’t see the mountain, because there was a white out. The plane crashed into it and there were no survivors. Because of this, New Zealand stopped all commercial flights to Antarctica. They later found out that it wasn’t the pilot’s fault. It was a glitch in the airline system that allowed incorrect coordinates to be programmed.
I really enjoyed this book. I recommend it for people that are aged 8 to 17.
- Charlie is 12 and lives in Hamilton.