New Zealand Holocaust Centre offers ‘ground breaking’ programme to high school students in South Canterbury

May 19, 2016 by Keren Cook
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South Canterbury High School students are the first in New Zealand to engage in a new programme that raises awareness and knowledge about the Holocaust.Staff from the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand (HCNZ) is in the South Canterbury region this week to offer a series of presentations to hundreds of high school students about the Holocaust History.

Schoolchildren visit the exhibition

Schoolchildren visit the exhibition

HCNZ Board Member, Rick Sahar, is key in sharing his personal experience in relation to the Holocaust. The Nazis incarcerated both his parents in concentration camps during World War II.

Sahar says his mother and father were displaced from their homes and moved to ghettos where they were effectively used as “slave labour”, he said.

His mother was then sent to a concentration camp for women, while his father spent time at 3 different camps, including Auschwitz camp in Poland.

While his parents survived, most of their family and friends died at the hands of the Nazis.

Sahar’s personal connection to the Holocaust motivated him to join the HCNZ ten years ago, and he is eager to teach young people about the history of the Holocaust and the lessons that could be learned from sharing these experiences.

Themes in the modern global political environment meant students could relate to what had happened in the past, he said.

Sahar says: “It’s relevant and topical, and we invite discussion and debate to understand better the choices people make.”

Looking at issues like bullying, and issues that affect teenagers at school offer similar parallels and insight opportunities he says.

HCNZ national director Richard Brown said that the new programme was “groundbreaking”.

“We’re working really hard to give kids that opportunity to engage with the past through a survivor’s eyes.

“I love exciting students, engaging them, and giving them an opportunity to take their learning to the next step,” says Brown.

The South Canterbury region was chosen as the first port of call as the organisers wanted to take it to heartland New Zealand, Brown said.

“We wanted to take our story beyond the walls of Wellington.

Brown says: “Our programme is New Zealand curriculum based, using a 21st century learning approach and modern online tools.”

The Holocaust Centre of New Zealand is the country’s national Holocaust education and remembrance centre. Based in Wellington, the centre provides displays, and educational material that focuses on the Holocaust and New Zealand.

The centre welcomes group and school visits – these can be arranged by appointment: Visit the website www.holocaustcentre.org.nz

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