Paris tributes for former Dunedin teacher

Romain Dunet died in the mass shooting at the Bataclan concert hall. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Romain Dunet died in the mass shooting at the Bataclan concert hall. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The sister of a teacher killed in the Paris terror attacks has spoken of his fondness for New Zealand after teaching at Dunedin high schools two years ago.

Romain Dunet (28), who taught at five Dunedin high schools while visiting the city on a working holiday in 2013, was killed in the Bataclan concert hall during Friday night's attacks.

In an email to the Otago Daily Times, Mr Dunet's sister Clotilde said it was heartening people were thinking of her brother in New Zealand at what was a devastating time for her family.

Mr Dunet came to Dunedin to improve his English and returned to Paris - where he taught English - with a love of New Zealand culture, she said.

''He discovered a new culture, new landscapes, another way of thinking. He met new friends and as a nature lover he brought back what he had learnt and was cheerful to share his experience with everyone.''

When his school in Paris celebrated the annual ''day of languages'' he taught his pupils how to perform the haka.

''How spectacular it was to see a bunch of students performing the haka in every class on that day.

''For Romain, [it] was a way to thank his former students from New Zealand.''

Her brother was a ''crazy young boy who embraced life to the fullest'', she said.

He was passionate as an English teacher, and the love his pupils had for him was shown on a tribute page they had set up on Facebook.

One of Mr Dunet's former Bayfield High School pupils, Katrina Hansen, is working in France and living in a suburb to the west of Paris.

She said knowing someone who was killed and being near where the attacks happened felt both ''surreal'' and made the attacks feel ''very real''.

The 19-year-old visited Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Sunday to express solidarity with those affected by the attacks and saw a city continuing with ''business as usual'', but also on edge.

''There is a heightened sense of awareness. For instance, you see someone with a backpack and they draw your attention.''

Between 40 and 50 people marked the Paris attacks with a minute's silence in front of the the peace pole on Otago Museum lawn at noon yesterday.

Among them was French citizen Romain Garby, who moved to Dunedin to work at Fisher & Paykel Appliances two years ago. He co-ordinates the weekly Otago Access Radio showFrench Roast, which this Sunday would focus on the attacks.

Yesterday's minute's silence was important because it showed France that people - even on the other side of the world - were thinking of them, Mr Garby said.

vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

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