Gently, gently: A school-university participatory research partnership in a post-disaster setting

Main Article Content

Carol Mutch
Sarah Yates
Chris Hu


In 2010/2011, the city of Christchurch and the surrounding district of Canterbury in New Zealand suffered a series of devastating earthquakes. A study led by The University of Auckland and co-funded by UNESCO followed schools as they came to terms with these events and began to rebuild their lives. The process to recruit and engage schools was slow and respectful as we built trust with first one school, then another. We offered a facilitative and participatory process where each school could choose how they wanted to proceed, who they wanted to involve and what they wanted the outcome to be. We engaged the students in various activities (narratives, video-making and arts-based activities) to help them process the events and move forward. The outcomes included a community mosaic, an illustrated book and video documentaries. This article charts the evolving partnerships between university researchers, school principals, teachers, students and parents. The lessons learned about successful school-university partnerships are summarised under dispositional, relational and situational factors.

Keywords: School-university partnership; participatory research; disaster settings; children and young people

Article Details

Research articles (Refereed)
Author Biographies

Carol Mutch, The University of Auckland

Associate Professor and Head of School, School of Critical Studies in Education, Faculty of Education

Sarah Yates, The University of Auckland

Research Assistant, The School of Critical Studies in Education

Chris Hu, The University of Auckland

Student, The School of Critical Studies in Education