Kids play with fire to learn how to burn
A group of Golden Bay children are lighting fires to learn about safety as part of their forest programme.
Every week since the beginning of term two, children from Golden Bay Kindergarten walk to the nut forest behind the Golden Bay Community Gardens and light a fire as part of their Te Ngahere [forest] programme.
Te Ngahere is the kindergarten’s reforestation and nature programme which has been running for nearly three years.
The centre is the only Enviroschool in Golden Bay to hold the GreenGold title, the highest level of national recognition.
Marni Thompson, 4, said her favourite thing about the fire safety was roasting the yummy apples on a stick.
‘‘What I learnt the most is standing back [from the fire] when it’s getting bigger.’’
Head Teacher Rebecca Olney said the kindergarten had the idea to learn about fire safety in the leadup to their annual Matariki celebration in the forest, where they had a large fire pit.
The kindergarten had applied for a fire permit and were visited by a firefighter before creating a circle together with stones and collecting sticks and firewood for the fire, she said.
‘‘The children learn heaps, and we have been using our resources like apples and chestnuts to roast on the fire.’’
Teacher Lesley Hopkins, who first established the Te Ngahere programme at the kindergarten, said the children were being empowered to learn and respect the fire, by knowing and understanding the risks of being around it.
‘‘Through this direct experience they are gaining knowledge about the nature of an open flame. Within this safe and controlled environment, they are also learning the necessary skills needed to keep themselves safe.’’
She said the fire safety training had naturally evolved in the Te Ngahere programme.
‘‘It’s a way that we can, every week, consistently go back to the same space and give the children an opportunity to interact and connect with nature in the most meaningful way you can, which is by being in it and learning through their senses.’’
Over the years, Te Ngahere has seen the children clearing the bay trees and blackberry bushes and planting natives.
‘‘We couldn’t even walk through [the forest] when we first started, now there’s so much space. It’s on Maori land, and so originally would have been lowland wetland area and we are trying to reintroduce the trees that used to be there.’’
Playing with fire (from left): Hjaate MacInes; Lara Cucksey; Caitlyn Page; Alazay Poole and Lola Zeewoldt.