Wahine Survivor talks of calm amidst the tragedy

This is Rasik Ranchord with his daughter Rameela, a Learning Assistant here at Seatoun School. We were very lucky to have Mr Ranchord come into school last week and talk to many of our students about his experience on board The Wahine, 50 years ago.

Mr Ranchord, then a young man in his twenties, was travelling to Wellington for his brother’s wedding and described how for most of the journey he slept really well! It was only to be disturbed by a huge scraping crunching sound on the bottom of the ship when he woke up to a ship in disarray.

A voice came over the loudspeaker advising passengers not to be alarmed and to put lifejackets on. In all of the times Mr Ranchord had been on a ship, this was the first time he had ever had to put on a lifejacket. A big jolt happened and this created an eerie and almost awkward silence as everyone knew that this had become very serious. “We were ushered to sit and I went over to the side of the ship. I could see a massive heaving, foaming sea beneath us”.

Another voice came over the loudspeaker – “We have slid off the reef and sent for the tug boats which will soon tug us into the harbour!”

“A loud cheer greeted this, the hot tea came out and everyone was happy. Unfortunately, when the tug boats came and the wires were eventually attached, the boat had taken on so much water that they were unable to move us. The ship began to list and twice it righted itself. The third time, it listed and then didn’t come back.”

At this point, as the lights went out, panic started to hit many of the people as shouting was heard and the order came to abandon ship. Wooden boats fixed to the side of the ship were prepared and women and children were told to be ready first, however some people panicked and jumped overboard. Mr Ranchord pointed out that the wind had dramatically died right down, and he firmly believes that had the order to leave the ship come earlier, more lives would have been lost as people would have been tossed from the lifeboats into the incredibly stormy sea.

Mr Ranchord was one of the last people to leave the sinking ship, and he was on an inflatable dinghy which drifted towards the Eastbourne coast for over an hour. Many small boats left Eastbourne to pick up people still in the water.

He and his fellow survivors had to walk quite a distance to the road, where they were picked up and taken to the RSA and given warm food and dry clothes. He was then taken to Wellington Station where families waited anxiously to greet their loved ones.

Mr Ranchord told us how he never felt panic during this whole event, how he felt very peaceful and able to calmly follow instructions, this no doubt helped him to survive and is something to remember if we were to face our own desperate situation.

Mr Ranchord attended his brother’s wedding and returned by ferry back to Lyttleton a few days later, passing the wrecked Wahine on his journey.

The Year 5/6s, who have been learning about The Wahine in the last few weeks, will have benefitted greatly from hearing this eye witness account of such a devastating event in Wellington and New Zealand’s history. Thank you to Mr Ranchord who gave us such an engaging account.

For more images, video broadcast and radio reports about this event you can also look on our blog under Research Help or click here. Photos on this post are from DigitalNZ’s reproduction of photos held in the Alexander Turnbull Library. Of the few fictional accounts based on this disaster that are available for children, No Safe Harbour by David Hill is the best, available from our library.

Seatoun was key to the rescue effort at this time and being so close, the community very much shared in the weight of this tragedy. Seatoun School hosts Seatoun Remembers on Tuesday 10th April.

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Great books you will love if you enjoyed Wonder

Like Wonder, there are a number of new books in our library which really put you in the shoes of children living with challenges. They promote empathy. There is also humour and quirkiness in all of these books. They were so good I know they will fly off the shelves. From year 4 to adult will enjoy these.

Matthew spends a lot of time cleaning – his hands, his clothes, his belongings- and because his room is his safe haven from germs he misses quite a bit of school, sitting in his bedroom window watching the goings on in his street below. A boy taunts him, his PE teacher mocks him and the other neighbours go about their daily routines which Matthew knows like the back of his (clean) hand. When a toddler staying next door goes missing, Matthew finds that the notes he keeps and the changing behaviours of some of the residents of the street give him ideas about where the child might be. This is at times a desperate struggle against some deep felt feelings, but also about friendship and courage. Magnificent.

A great one for slightly older readers, this book tackles the harsh reality of children growing up in Indonesia, working in sweatshops to produce the football boots worn by the world’s richest players. Budi, 11, is not forlorn or feels sorry for himself, he just idolises footballers and dreams of one day earning enough money to visit a great stadium and watch his player live. His foreman at work is cruel and unforgiving but being from a loving family and with friends to kick about with in the evenings, Budi is accepting of his life. A misplaced shot on goal leads to trouble and a decision Budi feels unable to make, then an uncle the family doesn’t mention goes missing and his loved ones come under the spotlight. How Budi copes and the lessons he learns make this a gripping and unforgettable book.

OCD strikes again in this book, only this time Alex struggles and worries his way through school, his obsessions making him the target of a particularly persistent group of bullies. One of these bullies, Dan, is facing some demons of his own, and taking it out on a weak target starts to become less fulfilling once he is forced to spend time with Alex during the school holidays. Dan and Alex seem to reach a private understanding, but what happens when the rest of the bullies are enjoying it too much to stop?

Martin and his younger brother Charlie have a plan, a tricky plan which means travelling a long way south with very little money and without their parents’ permission. Martin knows he will be in trouble – his little brother was born so early that he has a weak heart to go with his lovable and fun personality. They are going to see a dolphin, but we find out that the real reason for their visit is so huge that surely Martin needs some help to carry it out? This is another great book full of adventure, risk taking and brotherly love.

Alfie Monk is literally a thousand years old! When he was 11, back in the day when the Vikings had invaded England, Alfie and his parents took part in a ritual which meant that although not immortal, they would never age. After his Dad is tragically lost at sea, Alfie and his mum have lived interesting lives together ever since, settling and moving on whenever anyone grew suspicious of this child who never grew up. When a fire destroys this harmonious existence, Alfie must learn to trust others to help him complete the ritual to make him more like other boys and be able to lead a normal life.

Ally creates distractions and refuses to fit in at any school, until she finally meets a teacher who refuses to accept bad behaviour and helps her find the root of her reluctance to join in. She starts to believe in herself and find encouragement from other misfits and soon friendships start to make the impossible possible. This book gives you an idea of the struggles felt by children with dyslexia.


 Joe is 11 and has not stepped outside of his hospital room for over 10 years because his lack of immune system means that everyday germs would kill him. He has a friend in the US with a similar condition who he Skypes regularly and a sister who clearly adores him. However, since we find out quite early on in the book that his parents have died, we can see what a lonely little life Joe’s is. The Bubble Boy starts slowly but the input of a new carer Amir brings a touch of oddness and humour to make it a book worth reading.

Finally, in another book for older readers, the author attempts the impossible task of describing life of someone with Aspergers. Grace’s life is exhausting and any slight increase in the need of any her senses to react create an overwhelming need to get away from it all. Many teachers and students at her school have little or no sympathy with this, however Grace has an amazing best friend Anna and a horse Mabel who provide a necessary distraction. She also meets Gabe and their relationship is an important part of her story, for better and for worse. In the author’s notes at the end of the book there is a list of Grace’s thoughts on autism to show how complex and unique people living on the autism spectrum can be.

Dip into the Wonder movement by reading one of these books.

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Celebrating World Poetry Day

UNESCO decided in 1999 that 21st March would be World Poetry Day, with the aim of celebrating linguistic diversity through poetic expression and also giving endangered languages the opportunity to be heard in their communities.

We found a great YouTube clip about a lovely Maori poem which uses beautiful words to describe the dawning of a new day, Whakataka te hau. This poem is often used as a karakia or prayer at the start of meetings. Click on the image below to listen to it. It explains the meaning behind the words and you can imagine standing on the shoreline on a beautiful autumn morning at Seatoun as the sun rises.

Whakataka te hau ki te uru.       Cease the winds from the west.

Whakataka te hau ki te tonga.    Cease the winds from the south.

Kia mäkinakina ki uta.                 Let the breeze blow over the land.

Kia mätaratara ki tai.                    Let the breeze blow over the ocean.

E hï ake ana te atakura.                Let the red-tipped dawn come with a sharpened air.

He tio, he huka, he hau hü.          A touch of frost, a promise of glorious day.

Tihei mauriora.                                Sneeze, tis the breath of life!

The year 5/6 team have been walking up on the hills this week to get a sense of where the Wahine disaster occurred. Solomon wrote this poem which we thought we could share on this day, World Poetry Day.


On the 10th April 1968, Over 700 lives were empty with fate.

Captain Hector G Robertson said “It’s no immediate danger”

Lives were lost of Children, Lawyers or a ranger.

Cyclone Gasielle along with a storm from the straight,

The wind was strong and the death was great.

Both anchors went down along with a great drift,

The boat’s position started to shift.

At 11 on the dot they sunk like a truck,

Everyone lost lives for a cheap buck,

Everything is bad but nothing is worse than the luck,

Songs were sung and this was no fun.

But these disasters had just begun.

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Bugs, trees, ferns and seeds! Enviro trip 2018

Our 2018 Enviro trip by The Enviro Kids

On Thursday the 15th of March the Enviro team went on a trip to Otari Wilton Bush. The Enviroschools organisers had arranged some really interesting activities for us to keep us busy all day.

First we learned how to test if a stream is healthy by looking at the surrounding area, the amount of algae present, the clarity and temperature of the water and how many larvae of big bugs could be found. We found that the stream at Otari was OK to Excellent quality.

We then took a walk up to the 854 year old rimu and had fun seeing how many people were needed to reach around its trunk.

Later we found out more about native ferns and took a quiet walk around a fernery, sketching ferns. Our ideas were being used to inspire the artists creating new outdoor wood carvings around the reserve.

After that, we walked around  the gardens with the head curator of seeds and found out how different plants spread their seeds to ensure they did not die out. We each collected seeds and planted them to take home.

This is what some of our Enviro kids said about the whole experience:

– “I learned that the Kawa Kawa tree can heal almost anything” – Ilona

Kawa Kawa leaves are heart shaped and we heard that the leaves with the strongest medicinal powers are the ones with the most holes in – these have been eaten the most by caterpillars because they are the tastiest. Kawa Kawa leaves can be used to soothe insect bites, to place on cuts to help them heal and held in the teeth to cure toothache. A single leaf can also be left to brew in hot water for a couple of minutes and makes a relaxing tea.

– “I learnt about how to do a stream check-up and all about the Kawa Kawa” – Stanley

– “I learnt that when a Rimu gets its head cut off, it grows sideways” – Will D

– “I learnt that the oldest tree in New Zealand is 854 years old” – Violet


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Who shredded library books? I did!

There are three more books that were sadly destined for the scrap heap but have been reinvented as a cool mystery book to decipher. As a clue you will know these were much loved books, very popular, and book 3 particularly has been borrowed a LOT of times. Don’t worry, we still have at least one copy of these books in the library!

Come in, pick up the jar and scrutinise these jars! Write your name, room number, and the book you are guessing on a piece of paper and pop it in the box. Good luck!

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Enviro update – Predator Free Seatoun

Enviro update – Predator Free Seatoun by Josie and Lily

These past few weeks we have been learning how to set traps and tracking tunnels as part of predator free Miramar / Seatoun.

The Enviro year 7/8 leaders went on a tracking and trapping workshop, in which we learnt how to set traps and identify tracks.

We got given 6 traps to use and monitor around the school and 5 tracking tunnels so we know what type of pests live in our area. We have checked the tracking tunnels after the weekend and have found that the grounds around it attract rats, mice and mustelids (stoats and weasels). We set the traps in the locations where we found the tracks of pests.

Please be aware of these traps when walking around the boundaries of the school, especially around the tsunami stairs. If you see one while you are there please refrain from touching as it is a big danger if you set the trap off.

We will update the school community regularly about how many of these pests we are removing from the Seatoun area.



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Great new book – The war that saved my life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

In The War that Saved My Life, Ada is a nine year old girl who embraces everything about her new surroundings when she evacuates with her brother during World War 2.

This is Madeleine and she loved this book so much she gave it 5 stars and wrote this outstanding review about it. When you have read this I think you will want to read it too. Great work Madeleine!

Ada’s life is like a blanket with three holes in it. The first is her mum, who is too ashamed of Ada’s bad foot to let her go out and play. In Ada’s mum’s opinion, Ada is filth, dirt and rubbish because of her so-called ‘crippled foot’, but that’s just her thoughts. In reality, it’s the opposite.

The second hole is Ada’s bad foot. Ada’s foot is meant to be a secret, but when war breaks out, Ada and her brother flee from their home and Ada’s foot is shown.

The last and final hole is war! Hitler and the Nazis are trying to bomb England. Ada and Jamie now live with Susan who does her best to help Ada’s foot. She gets her crutches and tries everything until the day comes when the bombs go off. As the Nazis attacked England in the air there were still spies on land below. The war was in the tiger’s eyes but you wouldn’t believe that the war did any good but it did. The war saved Ada’s life!

The holes in the blanket are being stitched and sewed as readers turn the page. By Madeleine, aged 8.

The follow up to this is also on its way and can be borrowed soon.

For more books like these, try searching under World War in our library catalogue, there are heaps to choose from.


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New books galore in the library!

Last week we found out that Seatoun School had won the Wellington City Libraries Summer Reading Challenge, with 27 of our students reading books and entering the competition online. We received $500 of book vouchers to buy books for the library and we have wasted no time at all in spending this money with our junior students helping to choose a lovely new set of picture books.

Robbie’s Dad made a robot which does all of their household jobs, but taking it to school doesn’t quite go as Robbie planned! Golly gosh what a mess he makes! Room 6 loved this rhyming book and thought everyone else would too, so Robot Stop is a keeper!

Once upon a time a thief committed a crime
Everything he stole he replaced with a rhyme!

Imagine if someone stole your birthday cake and replaced it with a snake! A thief is about and nothing can stop him – until a tricky word crops up that just doesn’t appear to rhyme with anything! Room 5 and Room 8 loved Rhyme Crime and gave it a big thumbs up:

The year 3/4 classes have been speed reading a large selection of books to help us choose which ones to keep. Here are some photos of Rooms 10, 11 and 12:

Here is another great selection we picked up from The Childrens Bookshop this week with our vouchers. All of these books will be in the library to borrow this week, and here’s Hazel furiously covering them! Thanks Hazel!

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Books for inquisitive minds!!!

For the start of term we have been sharing some of the books I read over the holidays and some new books that we have in our library. This series by Andrea Beaty is all about children who don’t mind asking questions, taking risks and finding out just why?

She started with Why? and then What? How and When?
By bedtime she came back to Why? once again

The author has a great website here, where you can find activities and experiments you can do at home that are linked to each of the books. One page you might like to try out is this one by clicking on the image below. Astronaut Kate Rubins is reading Rosie Revere Engineer aloud from the International Space Station!

For children who love adventure but also have an interest in sustainability and protecting our planet, this two part series is excellent:

He’s just one and a half millimetres tall, but Toby Lolness is the most wanted person in the great Oak Tree. Pursued across a hazardous terrain of falling leaves, thick moss forests and bark mountains, hunted by an army of angry woodcutters and blood-thirsty soldier ants, Toby faces an epic battle for survival in an unforgettable miniature world.

The people that inhabit the Tree are not sure if there is any other life beyond their tree, even if there are other trees, but rumours circulate about the dangers of the Grass People and this threatens their peaceful existence. Toby’s father is a highly respected scientist, until his ideas about the dangers of continued digging and building in the tree and it’s effect on the long term sustainability of it are causing unrest amongst the people that hold power. Toby finds himself alone and in danger from even his closest allies, and he must use his wits and sheer determination to seek the truth about his parents. This book continues in Toby and the Secrets of the Tree, and is a great read for students age 9+.

Finally for our older readers, The Chaos Walking Trilogy describes a time in the future when groups of people from earth have inhabited another planet, only to find that once there, all people’s thoughts can be heard by everyone and this Noise cannot be escaped.  Imagine a world where there is information overload, where you are constantly being bombarded by others’ thoughts and feelings! Not too hard to imagine actually, only, on this planet, the women and girls have not survived and only the men are left. Todd is the last boy to be approaching his coming of age, a point in time that he has only heard whispers about. Why is there a place at the edge of his community where there is no Noise at all? Why do his caregivers want him to leave and what secrets do they keep? We share Todd’s dangerous journey on the run outside Prentisstown with his dog Manchee (who also has Noise). This book would be classed as science fiction or fantasy, and is suitable for ages 11+ due to the detail of violence that is described.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe features Romy, a sixteen year old girl who was born to astronaut parents on board a ship bound for settlement on a distant planet. An incident causing the death of her parents has meant that for the rest of her 50 year journey, she will be alone at steering the ship to it’s destination. She has a friend who she can message back on earth, a lady named Molly who is her mentor and companion, albeit 2 years behind time. Suddenly Romy gets a message that another, faster ship is on its way to the same destination and will catch up with her in a few years – only one person on board, and this time it’s a boy! Will romance ensue? What has happened back on earth? And is this boy J all he says he is? Romy is a very capable girl, but can she cope with what is being asked of her? Read it and find out!


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Summer Reading Challenge – start now!!!!!

Wellington City Libraries’ Summer Reading Challenge was launched on 1st December and we can get involved at Seatoun School to aim to have the most books read and reviewed as a school across the whole of Wellington! There are prizes to be won – after you have reviewed 2 books you win a prize, then again after 5 books and so on, plus you go in the overall prize draw for yourself and for the schools prize. You just need a WCL library card and a willing parent to help you to visit the library over the holidays  – here’s how it works:

1. Choose a book from the summer challenge list – you can pick up a copy of this list at school, at your local library or see it online here. Any books that are part of the series like Captain Underpants or Wimpy Kid can count towards your totals, but try to challenge yourself to read some that you have never read before.We have many of the books in our library at school – see which ones we have here.

2. Read the book.

3. Go online to the review site here and say what you thought about the book. Think about why you enjoyed it, what your favourite bits were, who your favourite characters were and who else you think might enjoy reading it. Give it a score out of 5.

4. Fill in your details, including your WCL library card number, tick the box to say it is part of the Summer Reading Challenge and don’t forget to click on the dropdown box and select Seatoun School.

5. Choose another book and do it all over and over again until 31st January.


Come and ask Mrs Bamber in the the library if you need any help.

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