Second childhood education centre
Riverside Educare directors Dot and Chris Macfie say the Wanaka area’s booming population means their proposed new early childhood education centre in Albert Town is urgently needed.
Census figures from 2013 reveal a general population growth of about 28 per cent from 2006, with 59 per cent more children under 5 years old living in the area during that same period.
When the Macfies opened Albert Town’s first childhood education centre in Rifleman St in 2011, they quickly reached their 65 pupil capacity and now have at least 30 families on their waiting list.
They were granted resource consent last week to open another Ministry of Education licensed centre in Sherwin Ave next February, subject to Riverside Park developer Infinity Group’s progress with the subdivision infrastructure.
The ‘‘start up’’ plan is to open with a roll and staff for 30 pupils, but eventually it could cater for up to 40 children and provide up to six teaching jobs.
The new centre would also include a commercial kitchen to provide meals for children at both Albert Town facilities and a public place for parents to meet for coffee. The cafe would provide jobs for another three to five people.
Dot Macfie said she received inquiries from parents throughout the district ‘‘almost daily’’ and was astounded how quickly her family’s vision for early childhood education was being realised.
She and her sister Sandy Dodds worked together to develop the Oanaka Educare centre in Wanaka in 2007, which is now a separate entity owned and run by Sandy and Barry Dodds. The Macfies own and run Riverside Educate.
‘‘Our vision was to be a leading provider of quality early childhood education in the Wanaka area, to have a full roll and a waiting list. Our roll is now full and our waiting list is such that while the 30 or so waiting have projected entry times this year, new people may not be able to get into Riverside Educare until 2016,’’ Macfie said.
Infinity Group has not yet completed its Riverside Park development, where the final number of sections is estimated to be more than 300.
Infinity general manager Paul Croft said it was great to hear another centre was opening in Albert Town.
‘‘From our side, the demand for sections at Riverside is probably the best it has been for the last five years. We are in the process of releasing a new stage that will be titled in July. That is 17 sections and we have already sold 11,’’ Croft said.
Infinity is also constructing stage six (49 sections) and has another stage to go after that, of 29 lots, to complete the entire subdivision.
Croft said Riverside was viewed as more affordable and Infinity was just about to sign over 11 sections to the Queenstown Lakes District Council as part of its affordable housing agreement with the council.
Population was ‘‘definitely helping’’ drive demand for sections at Albert Town, which had been tailored for young families, Croft said.
Macfie said thinking about the role the childcare centre had as a focal point in a family-friendly community had sparked the idea for the cafe and many parents were delighted to hear of the plans.
The new centre would cater for children aged between 2 and 5 years old. Babies will continue to attend Riverside Educare.
A town 5km from Wanaka which is rapidly becoming absorbed in to Wanaka. Albert Town was surveyed in 1863 and houses were established before people began moving to Pembroke in the 1870s. Albert Town’s first school opened in 1870 but closed for lack of pupils in 1876.
Following more than a decade of rapid growth, the Wanaka ward’s ‘‘usually resident’’ population was 9036 at the 2013 Census, up from 7011 in 2006. This is an increase of 28 per cent.
The population of children aged 0-4 years increased from 417 in 2006 to 663 in 2013, an increase of 58.9 per cent.
Dot and Chris Macfie of Riverside Educare. Photo: MARJORIE COOK Site: 1615sqm on corner of Sherwin Ave and Kingfisher Cres The proposal: A single story building covering 347sqm, containing classrooms, offices, a commercial kitchen and cafe. Includes playground, outdoor shade, shelter structures and fences. Materials: Ply and battens cladding, coloursteel roof, aluminium joinery Hours of operation: 7.30am-6pm, with the busiest times 8.45am3.15pm. Education requirements: The facility will be licensed, chartered and staffed for 40 children aged between 2 and 5 years. The Ministry of Education curriculum applies.