Teachers Rachael Gardiner and Andrew Morrison were privileged to take a group of Year 13 history students to meet with a survivor from Hungary at the New Zealand Holocaust Centre, in Wellington, on August 4.
The NCEA level three history class has spent the year studying the Holocaust: the historical context of the event, the forces allowed such an event to occur, and the international short and long term consequences. We have looked at how the Holocaust is significant to New Zealand, and this investigation led us to travel to Wellington to visit the New Zealand Holocaust Centre.
We met with Steven Sedley, a Holocaust survivor from Hungary who settled in New Zealand after the war. Steven generously shared his story, and that of his family, with us and happily answered our questions. Steven also shared with us a digital recording of another survivor who settled in New Zealand, Zophia Galler, who had died two years previously. Zophia had been a fourteen year old in Auschwitz and her story was traumatic. The insight these personal stories gave us - from the kindness Steven's family experienced from a New Zealand customs officer, to the Zophia's account of her personal experience of Dr Joseph Mengele - made the learning we have done more real. It brought home the importance of bearing witness to the suffering of others, and understanding how circumstances can enable the unthinkable to occur.
We took the opportunity while in Wellington to visit Te Papa, and the Scale of Our War exhibit. The sculptures have immense power to help visitors understand the situation our men and women were in during the Gallipoli campaign and the conditions they suffered. We enjoyed the interactive displays and information and Te Papa as a whole. Mr Morrison and Miss Gardiner had a moment of nostalgia as we saw the displays of 80s toys - Strawberry Shortcake, He Man, and Alf all featured.
Our students were given copies of itinerary and maps of the Wellington CBD and enjoyed some free time navigating the central city and exploring their own areas of interest. The trip was of great value and our students conducted themselves exceptionally. What an awesome day!