twilight and shadow

Tears of sorrow

"She said, 'My good friend Portia (McPhail, who was in the group and also died) said we have got this little saying that says we are going to jump in puddles, Dad."
"She said, 'What I mean by that is even if it is bad, we are going to make the most of it'."
- Father: It's a tragedy for us...and the country from the New Zealand Herald (17/04/08)

No book quote today. Instead we have the words of one of the fathers of the school children that drowned in the Tongariro National Park on Tuesday. The whole nation was in shock yesterday as news of the 7 deaths surfaced.

6 young lives cut short. A budding young teacher taken. A school, a neighbourhood, a city, a country in mourning.

10 students, their teacher, and an instructor for the Outdoor Pursuits Centre course they were participating in were on a canyoning expedition up a gorge in the Tongariro National Park when they were hit by a flash flood. Only 5 made it out alive.

It is in moments like these that I am fiercely proud of our little country. We handle grief well (mostly...just not when it's sporting loses like the Rugby World Cup). Being small, stories like this shake us deeply. I mean, that school those kids were from is in my neighbourhood. I've been on that same Outdoor Pursuits Centre course several years ago just like those kids were doing. I know people who work for OPC. Mum teaches kids from that school.

Our family is no stranger to the cruelty of the outdoors. My eldest brother, a keen mountaineer in his 20s, lost several friends to the mountains as did my Dad and Uncle in their younger days. They were also part of search and rescue crews through out and I have heard some of the horrific stories they can tell. My Mum has also suffered several injuries deep in the wilderness and had to be winched out.

But knowing all this doesn't change the sorrow that I felt as we watched the news last night. The whole first 2 segments of the news (we're TV3 watchers) devoted to this story with more following that evening on Campbell Live. The papers filled with grief, disbelief and immense saddness. No one quite able to believe what had happened.