UPT Digital Northern Tower Nucleus UPT Digital Dormitory HRC
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We'd just had a meeting with Ian Turney, had finished our lunch, and were just about to get started on our planning for Tech Hui in Wellington, when the quake struck.  Everyone dived under the tables.  It was pretty noisy but the building felt reasonably stable.  We were more concerned about the multi-level Westpac building across the street.

From the balcony, it looked like a war zone below.  A fire had broken out in an adjacent building, but it wasn't until we smelled gas that we thought we'd better make a quick exit.

We left our nucleus classroom in Level Two of Unlimited's Northern Tower on February 22nd 2011 and haven't been back since.

Our school, Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti, was located in Cashel Mall in the CBD of Christchurch.  We had three campuses - Northern Tower, Southern Star House, and the Basement Level of the Crossing.  We were all supposed to meet at Latimer Square but as we made our way to the corner of Cashel and High, we were redirected by emergency workers and sent to the CPiT carpark so only half of the school went to Latimer Square.

With the mobile networks totally jammed, it was a nervous few hours before we found out whether the other half of our school community was safe and well.  I can only imagine what it must have been like for parents, seeing the chaos on the news and not being able to contact their children.  Thank goodness we all made it to safety.

It's been a tough year for us.  All of our computers were broken and we're still waiting for replacements.  We don't have a suitable space for our class either.  Although it's great to have a temporary location, it doesn't meet our learning needs, nor does it reflect our Unlimited culture.  In saying that, we continue to look onward and upward!  We had an awesome time in Wellington, thanks to the overwhelming support of New Zealand's IT community, and we're looking forward to presenting at Microsoft Tech-Ed in August.

We've had a very challenging year, and it's through these challenges that one thing becomes obvious - the relationships we've formed in UPT Digital, have given us the strength to look after one another, to keep striving, and to achieve great things.

Here's to our most challenging and most rewarding year!

- Renea Mackie


UPDATE May 2012

We have relocated to the Wairarapa Block on the University of Canterbury's Dovedale Campus.  This is a great site for us because we are closer to places like the HITLabNZ and NZi3 (where the Canterbury Software Cluster have a monthly event).

Colin Gray and a team of boys at John McGlashan College in Dunedin have joined us and are working on The reCURSIVE Project also.  Exciting times!

It was recently announced that our two main campuses in the city will be demolished which gives us an exciting opportunity to create a new environment for learning at Unlimited in the future.

The quakes continue, but they're not as frequent as they were.

- Renea Mackie

Last modified: Thursday, 3 May 2012, 03:06 AM