Memorial marks 10 years since Elim Christian College river tragedy

Six Elim Christian College students and a teacher were killed when they were swept away in floodwaters in 2008.
Six Elim Christian College students and a teacher were killed when they were swept away in floodwaters in 2008. Photo credit: Google Maps

A memorial is being held to mark the 10th anniversary of the Mangatepopo Gorge tragedy.

Six Elim Christian College students and a teacher were killed when they were swept away in floodwaters in 2008.

The activity was run by Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre, now Hillary Outdoor Education Centres, which later admitted safety breaches.

CEO Graham Seatter says the memorial will consist of speeches, prayers and fellowship.

"It's a gathering of friends and supporters to recognise what a significant event this has been and how important it is that our organisation never forgets what happened.

"The families have not been allowed to forget, obviously. For them it will always remain a very, very difficult event in their lives.

"It's important that we as an organisation remember it, recognise it, accept responsibility, and make sure something like this never happens again."

Mr Seatter says the culture of his organisation has majorly shifted since the disaster.

"We're much more collegial, much more team-focused, less individual and more about group decisions.

"We have a totally different safety system of the highest quality, and we're a little more conservative now with our decision making.

"An element of risk is important, an element of challenge is important, but as an organisation it is about caring for students and looking after them and keeping them safe."

He said not a day goes by that he doesn't think about the tragedy.

"We've been complacent before and we'll never be complacent again.

"We'll just do our best to make sure young people that come here have the best time they can, but have a safe time.

He said more than 60 people will attend the memorial ceremony.

Newshub.