Play­group needs a venue

Central Leader - - News - By Carly Tawhiao

A lo­cal play­group is looking for a new home so it can open its doors to fam­i­lies want­ing their chil­dren to learn how to play, sing, and speak in Man­darin.

The play­group, known as Shuang Xing or Dou­ble Star, needs a new venue for its reg­u­lar Satur­day morn­ing ses­sions, af­ter re­cently be­ing told it could not op­er­ate from a Mt Eden early child­hood cen­tre be­cause it breached coun­cil rules.

“It seems re­ally dif­fi­cult to find an ideal place. Ev­ery time we find a venue, it ei­ther shuts down or we dis­cover they can’t ac­com­mo­date us,” says Chi­nese lan­guage ed­u­ca­tor and par­ent Raewyn Ho.

“We’d love an en­vi­ron­ment with a play­ground that’s legally avail­able on Satur­day morn­ings.”

Shuang Xing was started by Ms Ho in 2007 and was orig­i­nally based in Mis­sion Bay be­fore mov­ing to Re­muera and then Mt Eden.

Ms Ho, a third-gen­er­a­tion Chi­nese New Zealan­der, only be­gan learn­ing Man­darin when she went to uni­ver­sity and says al­though Chi­nese is not her chil­dren’s first lan- guage ei­ther, she knows it’s im­por­tant they grow up learn­ing about their her­itage.

“It’s based on the New Zealand cur­ricu­lum de­liv­er­ing ed­u­ca­tion through play, but it is all in­structed in Man­darin,” says the mother of three.

“There are quite a few New Zealand Chi­nese who don’t speak Chi­nese but there will al­ways be lots of op­por­tu­ni­ties to use it.”

Ms Ho taught secondary school Man­darin be­fore be­com­ing a par­ent and now vol­un­teers at the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute and Chi­nese Lan­guage Foun­da­tion pro­mot­ing Chi­nese lan­guage and cul­ture in New Zealand schools.

She also works part­time for Auck­land Uni­ver­sity, train­ing teach­ers in Chi­nese lan­guage in­struc­tion.

“I went to China for a year and Tai­wan for a year af­ter fin­ish­ing uni­ver­sity but my Man­darin has only re­ally im­proved since start­ing the play­group,” she says.

“It’s also a nice com­mu­nity for meet­ing fam­i­lies in­ter­ested or from Chi­nese or Malaysian back­grounds.”

For more in­for­ma­tion phone 027-290-5276.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Fully im­mersed: Preschool­ers Hamish Young, 2, left, Char­lotte Waish­ing, 4, and El­liot Young, 4, learn Man­darin through ed­u­ca­tional play.

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