‘No snakes, no tigers, only earth­quakes’


No tigers, no snakes and no hurt, that’s the best thing about New Zealand ac­cord­ing to the class of 2016.

These are some of Porirua’s new­est cit­i­zens, most of them refugees and they’re de­lighted to be here - de­spite the earth­quakes.

They meet ev­ery week at Porirua’s English Lan­guage Part­ners to learn the lan­guage of their new coun­try and to en­cour­age each other.

Musa Al Ak­taa was late to class on Tues­day but his fel­low stu­dents ap­plauded him when he walked in.

Grin­ning ear to ear the Syr­ian man bought with him a cer­tifi­cate in ba­sic com­put­ing he was re­cently awarded.

Man­ager Jac­que­line Wil­ton said de­spite only be­ing in the coun­try since Septem­ber, Musa was ‘‘fly­ing ahead due to his de­ter­mi­na­tion.’’

Wil­ton and her team of teach­ers work with adult mi­grants and refugees to teach them English - the most im­por­tant thing for set­tling in a new coun­try, she said.

‘‘These peo­ple are so ap­pre­cia­tive and they are re­ally try­ing, that’s what peo­ple need to know.

‘‘The refugees here have lit­er­ally come out of hell. They have the same ba­sic needs as ev­ery other per­son in this coun­try.’’

Peo­ple from 27 eth­nic groups study at the Porirua cen­tre - one of 23 schools na­tion­wide.

New ki­wis who have come from places like Syria, Cam­bo­dia, Colom­bia and Laos com­bine in the class­rooms to learn about New Zealand life.

‘‘When peo­ple first ar­rive they’re very ex­cited but a bit con­fused be­cause there’s so much go­ing on,’’ Wil­ton said.

‘‘They’re so keen to get out and con­trib­ute and some­times they have to slow down a bit.’’

Wil­ton said the school had just held it’s end of year cel­e­bra­tion, at­tended by 300 stu­dents.

‘‘Ev­ery­one bought a plate so we had all this won­der­ful eth­nic food mixed in with tra­di­tional Christ­mas food, so much fun.’’

Back in the class­room, stu­dents are tak­ing turns to write the date on the board, as words of en­cour­age­ment or teas­ing are called out from their class­mates.

They’re quick to an­swer when asked what they like about their new home coun­try.

‘‘No snakes, no tigers, only earth­quakes,’’ laughed one new Kiwi.

‘‘No hurt,’’ said an­other.

Pho­tos: P22.


Yasin Ashira, Lien Vang and Mo­hamad Asaad at English Lan­guage Part­ners New Zealand in Porirua.

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