Today I thought I should let the voice of many past students and others who have emailed into the school shine through and tell our story. When respondents refer to me, I regard that as a reference to our Board of Trustees, Senior Leadership Team, our staff and students.
“I wanted to thank and congratulate you, and the immense bravery of your students, for shining the spotlight on sexual assault against school aged young-women. I am a survivor myself, having attended another Christchurch girls high school over 20 years ago. While I found the results of your survey triggering, so too was I hopeful that perhaps - finally - important discussions would take place and meaningful change can occur. It has taken a very long time for our society to get to this point of discussion and acknowledgement, and I thank you all for the pivotal role you have had in this. To those young women who have been assaulted and objectified, and who have bravely stepped forward via the survey and to the Police - as I am standing in your future shoes - let me say this: You are not broken. You will be ok. You are not alone. From the depths of our greatest despair, our hearts can soar. Some of the world's greatest teachers are those that have experienced trauma and survived to tell the tale. You are a survivor. What you have taught the country in the past week is a legacy you will leave for generations to come - thank you. I truly believe this is the start of the change that women like me, and young women like you, have been waiting to see for decades. Kia kaha”.
““It brings me immense hope that now it (sexual harassment) is finally being addressed and that what used to be the status quo or a rite of passage is now being confronted. I have not always been proud to be a Girls’ High Alumni, a lot of that stemming from trauma endured in teenage years, but yesterday, today and as long as these young women progress with the world, I AM PROUD. The passion and drive that these young women are showing fills my heart with hope. More so the leadership from yourself and staff to encourage and empower them on this journey to eradicate sexual harassment. I felt compelled to write to you as it is not only an incredibly proud moment for all current and past staff and students of the school, but important. It is important that these girls, and yourself, feel supported in this journey for women to feel safe in who they are, no matter who they are surrounded by, or where they are these cycles of harassment for my generation and many others. The mahi these young women are putting in is going to impact the way, not only them but the young men around them engage with this world.”
“Christine, ka mau te wehi. I am so very inspired by the courageous stand you have taken, in full collaboration with the young women of your kura, particularly the leadership of Amiria Tikao. Quite frankly it is one of the bravest, boldest actions I have seen for some time. I am so very grateful for your leadership. Essentially I wanted to reach out and recognise you in taking such a principled and profound position, in exposing the realities for our young women. Obviously what happens for the young women at Christchurch Girls’ is but a microcosm of a far greater story, across every school, every community – but few are brave enough to say that.”
“I am writing to congratulate you and the CHGS Board for taking leadership on the important matter of sexual violence and harassment. I am the parent of a student who had a wonderfully successful time there, aside from an horrific incident of this nature that has continued to blight her life since it occurred. So you can imagine how relieved I am to know that CGHS is now lifting the silence on sexual violence against their students, and allowing young women who have been attacked or harassed a safe space to speak out from. This will be a relief to her just knowing the school is listening to current students, believing them, and providing additional counselling resources. Once again, I would like to mihi your leadership in lifting the silence on this topic, providing validation for all those who have had to live with these events every day.”
“Thank you, thank you, thank you! As an old girl can I say how grateful I am for the school's response to your brave students!! This is such an important conversation, and I felt so inspired listening to the interview you did with Amiria for RNZ. What your school leadership is doing is bang on! Kia kaha -thank you for leading the way. I know the price will be high, sticking your necks out in this way - but I've never felt prouder to be associated with CGHS!”
Also this article in the Guardian by Catherine McFedries a past student:
Powerful voices from our women.