The Year 5 and 6 kids at Oromahoe School have come through a tsunami and lived to tell the story.

It was gory, scary, seat-of-the-pants stuff, as the fear-stricken young faces and gruesome injuries caught on film will show.

And it was incredibly good fun.

The whole class made a short movie, currently in the final editing stages, in The Shortest Ever Tsunami Movie Competition.


That innovative project open to Far North school students was launched as an awareness-raising exercise by Far North Civil Defence.

All entries must contain three elements: The sound of a tsunami warning siren, a natural tsunami warning sign and a "grab 'n' go" kit.

The Oromahoe pupils worked on their project all term, teacher Jason Taylor said.

Most of the work went on before the fun stuff of smearing golden syrup and food colouring 'blood' on themselves, adopting the glazed look of disaster victims, and acting out a pre- and immediate post-tsunami trauma.

"We set the class up as a little production team," Mr Taylor said. "The kids got to assign or choose their jobs ... producer, then scriptwriters, directors, camera and sound operators."

The whole class brainstormed story lines and the writers came back with drafts, then with the final script.

"They were collaborating every step of the way. Everybody knew the story right the way through, they totally owned it," Mr Taylor said.

Judging if young film-makers from at least 20 school teams got across the right safety message in fine cinematic style - and in three minutes or less - will be movie director, and ex-Bay of Islands lad, Florian Habicht.

Prizes will be awarded in three categories - primary, intermediate and secondary - and include a barbecue for the winning school from Bunnings, helicopter rides by Salt Air, and more, Far North Civil Defence officer Ann-Marie Houng Lee said.

The Oromahoe class filmed Higher Ground last Thursday , well in time for the competition cut-off time next Friday.

While none of the children from the small rural mid-north school ever want to be in a tsunami, they're aware they live in a vulnerable region where everyone needs to know to head for higher ground should the waves come.

In learning more about that, they got to be movie makers and movie stars.

And they're in the right class for it: Mr Taylor is one half of the duo of Northland teachers - the other was Adam Hogg (Russell) - who made The Turning Tide, a short movie based on fishing conservation values they filmed on the coast north of Matauri Bay.

The Turning Tide won an award at its first festival entry, the Wairoa Maori Film Festival, was next shown in the Auckland International Film Festival's short film section and will be screened next month at the Toronto Film Festival.