There have been a number of accidents in New Zealand history which due to their magnitude and loss of life can be described as disasters or tragedies. This site looks at several of these events including:

A New Zealand disasters timeline is also available which teachers could use should they wish to explore other New Zealand disasters.

These particular disasters involved substantial loss of life and had a far-reaching impact on the nation. These features provide teachers and students with an opportunity to look not only at what happened but, more importantly, how the wider community reacted to these disasters. What lessons were learnt to ensure such accidents can be avoided in the future?

The activities that have been developed to support these features (see below) are deliberately general in nature so as to allow them to be easily adapted for all levels of the curriculum. While they have a social sciences focus, language teachers will find the contexts useful for writing and presentation activities.


  • New Zealand disasters activities
  • Key vocab
  • What happened and why
  • Determining the cause
  • Communicating ideas
  • Personal writing
  • Expressing your opinion
  • People on the spot
  • What could have been done differently?
  • What’s the question?
  • A snapshot in time-disasters