Ja­panese vis­i­tors wel­comed

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By LAURA MCLEAY

There was a sigh of re­lief at Mata­mata In­ter­me­di­ate School last week when they found out their New Zealand-bound Ja­panese ex­change stu­dents had sur­vived the de­struc­tive earth­quake and tsunami that rocked their coun­try. The 25 stu­dents from Makuhari School in Ja­pan were on their way to Narita Air­port in Tokyo when the disas­ter hit.

The elec­tric trains they were trav­el­ling on were cut off, the air­port they were head­ing to was evac­u­ated and ev­ery­one was sent home.

But a week on, the stu­dents man­aged to book new flights and ar­rived last night to wel­com­ing arms for their 12-day stay.

Year eight stu­dent Tayla-Jay Dearlove who is bil­let­ing Hi­nako Ya­m­aguchi had watched the disas­ter un­fold on tele­vi­sion and was wor­ried for Hi­nako.

To check she was safe, Tay­laJay sent her an email and has been in con­tact with her un­til she ar­rived yes­ter­day.

‘‘I was re­ally wor­ried when I first heard about the earth­quake, I thought it had not hit her area but it had,’’ she said.

‘‘She and her fam­ily are okay and Hi­nako said she was re­ally ex­cited to come and show me her cook­ing, and she wants to see all the an­i­mals we have here.’’ Tay­laJay said with all the email­ing, they had de­cided to be­come pen pals af­ter the visit.

Many other in­ter­me­di­ate stu­dents had also been able to con­tact those they would bil­let.

Renee Jel­lie, 12, said her stu­dent was on the way to the air­port at the time of the earth­quake and had to be evac­u­ated from the train. ‘‘She is re­ally happy she can now come. We have been email­ing each other pic­tures of our fam­i­lies and she said she is ex­cited to see an­i­mals and have a go at rid­ing the horses we have.’’

Mata­mata In­ter­me­di­ate princi- pal Mar­ion Hen­rik­sen said they had a long-stand­ing re­la­tion with Makuhari for over 14 years and she was happy that could con­tinue. ‘‘Ev­ery­one has been so look­ing for­ward to it and the fam­i­lies who are host­ing them are still happy to take them,’’ she said.

‘‘Ev­ery­one feels that they want to do some­thing so if we can give these kids a happy time when they are here and give them a break it will feel very spe­cial,’’ she said.

Bil­lets: Mata­mata In­ter­me­di­ate stu­dents who are bil­let­ing Ja­panese stu­dents this week are ex­cited they have fi­nally ar­rived.

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