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