"Remember how the bugs give you a sore puku?" Head teacher of the Tui Room at Village Kids Havelock North Preschool, Tami Manihera, says was the easiest way to explain to the children that drinking the tap-water would make them violently ill.

"We'd just say, "remember how the bugs give you a sore puku?""

Miss Manihera says it was how the teachers ensured the children remembered: ""No because we get a sore puku ae," I think that's how we related it because if some of them were physically sick they would know that they had a sore tummy and because we call tummy puku, so they would say "no, get sore puku ae," and it was like, "that's right".

Miss Manihera became ill herself.


"I thought, wow, if I feel this awful, for some of our smaller tamariki to feel that, I just couldn't imagine."

The drinking fountains were turned off and bottled water was brought in - most children took it in their stride.

"They handled it really well, they were really resilient even though they would try the fountains they'd remember to come and get their cup because we named all the cups and they were all on the bench as reminders...so they actually adjusted quickly, really quickly, I was really proud of them."

But as more and more fell ill with the illness' incubation period ending, the preschool closed.

"There were a few people away with staff and children and parents as well, it was a gradual thing, once we found out, and people started getting sick and gradually dropping."

"It was not a nice bug, it didn't make me feel good for the parents and our children that they had to go through that as well, that's pretty trying."

Once the water was deemed safe the preschool gradually reverted back to the now chlorinated tap water.

"With the children, as soon as we turned (the drinking fountain) on, like literally that morning...it was like whooosh they were all back in there again and they were like, "no more bugs"," Miss Manihera says.

For the children - the crisis is now a distant memory. But the adults at the centre will be watching closely as the inquiry into the water crisis resumes.

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