Multilingual series of children’s books help build emergency resilience

Last Updated : 13 Oct 2023
Front Cover Of Mandrain Version You Ready Children S Book
Front page of one of the multilingual books in the series
AEM books 2
Opening lines of the story "Adventures with the weather gods"
AEM books 3
Te Kura Kaupapa o Te Kotuku School
AEM book 4
Sutton Park School
AEM book 5
New Zealand Multi-cultural Arts & Sports Centre

One Saturday, a family went to the market.

They bought hāngi meals, mussel fritters and rewena bread and sat down to


Aniwa put her mussel fritter on her lap to cool down.

This was one of those days when Tāwhirimātea liked to cause mischief.

He sent a strong wind that blew Aniwa’s mussel fritter onto the ground …..

And so begins one of the You Ready? series of children’s books launched yesterday by Auckland Council’s Auckland Emergency Management team, in collboration with Auckland Libraries.

The multi-lingual series (Māori, Samoan, Hindi and Chinese) follows a group of friends as they face dangerous weather events and natural disasters. From cyclones and tornadoes to flash floods and thunderstorms, the children use their quick thinking, knowledge, and resilience to prepare for and stay safe in emergencies.

Auckland Council’s Head of Resilience Melanie Hutton says they chose to work with children on this project as research has shown the long-term psychological harm disasters can have on children and their development.

“Rates of post-traumatic stress disorder among children more than doubled after the 2011 Canterbury earthquakes.

“Not only are disasters stressful and frightening, but children can suffer psychological harm from the damage they see to their homes and possessions, the effects of stress on parents and from the breakdowns in social networks in neighbourhoods.

“We saw this opportunity to build our young people’s resilience to disasters here in Auckland through participation in appropriate readiness, response and recovery activities.”

The series was developed in collaboration with tamariki from across Auckland’s communities who enjoyed the creative writing and illustration processes. Their involvement in the project helped them to build on their previously limited knowledge of emergency preparedness.

“Children aged between seven and 12-year-olds are at the right age for children to start learning about how to get ready for emergencies and how to keep themselves, and their families safe when storms or floods occur,” adds Melanie.

The National Emergency Management Agency funded $85,500 to develop and produce the books with a further $20,850 contributed by Auckland Emergency Management.

Chair of the council’s Civil Defence and Emergency Management Committee Cr Sharon Stewart is delighted to see an innovative approach taken to engaging with children on emergency preparedness. 

“Talking about readiness for a disaster and increasing resilience amongst our youngest Aucklanders isn’t easy – we want to make sure they feel well-informed about natural threats in our region, not frightened.

“These books offer an innovative way to start important conversations about disasters and emergency preparedness at home, and in a way that children can understand. Storytelling is a great medium!” she says.

The books are available on request from Auckland Emergency Management and will be available in libraries across Tāmaki Makaurau. The series will also be shared with all Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) groups around the country for their use with tamariki in their communities.

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