Gordonton goes to Fukushima

Mar 20th, 2017 | By | Category: News, Out & About

That’s that then. The daughter is now on her way to Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, after a spot of training in Tokyo.

Iris was the leading force in the creation of Number 8 Network. While studying journalism she noted she knew more about the goings-on in Hamilton than she did Gordonton, where she had been born and raised. We needed something for our patch, she felt and in 2011 community website N8N was launched.

Iris Riddell

Iris and Annette not long after starting N8N

Not long after Iris left the Waikato but she’d always come back to Gordonton.

Now trips home will be a little bit harder, as she settles in Minamisoma, a city with a population slightly smaller than Rotorua, ready to teach English at Odaka Elementary School.

Minamisoma is possibly best known for the thousands of videos of the chaos and devastation following the 2011 tsunami.   The infamous Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station is just 25km away from her apartment.

Minamisoma devastation

Devastation in Minamisoma – Photo by Daisuke Tsuda/Wikimedia Commons..


We of course looked into possible risks of radioactive contamination and, six years on, there is little to worry about.

The area where Iris will be living is within the limits recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection, although there are areas not far south and west where lvels are still elevated and people have not yet moved back.

At the start, Iris expressed an interest in being posted to an area where she could be involved with a community in a meaningful way. In recent years she has worked for NZ charities Be.Accessible and Inspiring Stories   and spent a week in Sri Lanka last year, visiting children in a remote village with ChildFundNZ

“An incredible day in the field, meeting some of the most resilient, hardworking, selfless people, who are all so dedicated to their communities… “

Now it is time to go further afield, and for longer.  Iris says Minamisoma is a proud city, steeped in history – “… the people are starting to come back and rebuild their community, almost literally from the ground up. Yes, I’m going over there as an Assistant Language Teacher in an elementary school. But hopefully I will be able to find other ways to be of service to the community, and play a role, however small, in the healing process. Let’s see how this unfolds.”

Number 8 Network will miss its curly haired co-founder, and likes to think being involved with N8N helped her take the path she is on.  After all, there are many hard-working people giving freely of their time and energy here in our patch.

Koun subete no besuto Iris!  N8N looks forward to sharing some of your stories.



Tsunami photo credit here.

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10 Comments to “Gordonton goes to Fukushima”

  1. Valerie Morgan says:

    Best wishes Iris. Enjoy your adventure, never forget Gordonton, and keep looking at the big picture!

  2. Judy says:

    Thank you Annette for the well written article about your lovely daughter (of course what you write is always good) Great experience for you Iris, and will learn lots about another culture and enjoy the Japanese way of life.

  3. Gayle P says:

    I look forward to reading about Iris’adventures.

    • N8N says:

      So do I! (Iris, please phone home!) (She is waiting for the internet to be connected in her little apartment!) 🙂

  4. Russell says:

    What an adventure. Working with young children will be a great way for you to learn the language Iris!

    • N8N says:

      It will indeed Russell! And great to be part of a community rebuilding itself. We look forward to our visit in August!

  5. Margaret Miers says:

    Wishing Iris safe travels, a homely place to stay when you arrive and good people to work with. Thanks for getting N8N started. Mum is doing a great job keeping it going.

    • N8N says:

      Thanks Margaret – she is now in Minamisouma and school starts this Monday – a special day, a brand new school opening for the first time this week. Iris is very lucky to be a part of it!

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