Hand­ing down old time shar­ing

Coastal News - - Coastal News - By ALI­SON SMITH [email protected]­news.co.nz

We used to know them as handme-downs and ev­ery­one was happy to re­ceive them.

These days, as com­mu­ni­ties have grown and peo­ple have felt the pres­sure of con­sumerism, or­gan­i­sa­tions like Whanga­mata Kinder­garten are mak­ing sure that these ‘old ways’ aren’t lost on the next gen­er­a­tion.

The Whanga­mata Kinder­garten set up a trad­ing post in­side its cen­tre for par­ents to swap, share, drop off and pick up old and new goods that might be ap­pre­ci­ated by some­one else.

It’s not open to the pub­lic but it meets the needs where it’s needed.

The kinder­garten chil­dren are taught that shar­ing and giv­ing is a nor­mal, nat­u­ral thing to do.

And the trad­ing post — along with the Shar­ing is Car­ing stand sta­tioned out­side the kinder­garten gates for all to use — has taken on a life of its own.

“To start with we were like mother hens and peo­ple were a bit bash­ful about us­ing it,” says teacher Rachel Ful­ton. “But now it re­ally just takes care of it­self.”

The kinder­garten acts as a kaiti­aki, or guardian, of the Car­ing is Shar­ing food shar­ing stand by keep­ing goods that need re­frig­er­a­tion in­side their fridge, and en­sur­ing it is kept tidy.

They see a “con­stant stream” of peo­ple drop­ping things off and pick­ing things up.

Head teacher Jenny El­win says the chil­dren har­vest food from the gar­dens of the kindy and get to share these things out on the stand.

Other than this, there is no dis­cus­sion around ‘giv­ing’ or ‘need’. The idea is that giv­ing is a nat­u­ral and nor­mal way of life.

“There’s no judg­ments, it’s a safe place for peo­ple to come in and give things and take things away. Our trad­ing post has had sleep­ing bags, clothes, fur­ni­ture and kids’ and adults’ books, which is great be­cause for some the li­brary is a bar­rier be­cause it is a $25 cost and there’s the po­ten­tial for fines.

“With the trad­ing post, it’s very or­ganic. We’re go­ing back to the old fash­ioned way of hand me downs and giv­ing. No­body has to jump through any hoops to re­ceive what’s there.”

While the trad­ing post shares goods among wha¯ nau (fam­i­lies) of the kinder­garten and their wider cir­cle of friends, the Car­ing is Shar­ing stand out­side is for ev­ery­body, re­gard­less of need.

Jenny says the stand was kept in a low key lo­ca­tion to help peo­ple get used to the idea and it wasn’t made with bright colours so that it drew at­ten­tion to it­self.

“We don’t want the stigma to be at­tached to it, and it’s not just for some­one who is poor. We’re show­ing the chil­dren that giv­ing is a good and nor­mal thing, and you don’t nec­es­sar­ily have to re­ceive,” says Jenny.

The women say it’s nice, how­ever, for peo­ple who are gen­er­ous and giv­ing to be able to re­ceive some­times, which is what the Car­ing is Shar­ing stand of­fers them.

“It’s a drop in the ocean but for this im­me­di­ate com­mu­nity, that’s how we can make a dif­fer­ence.”

PHOTO / ALI­SON SMITH

The Whanga­mata Kinder­garten set up a trad­ing post in­side its cen­tre for par­ents to swap, share, drop off and pick up old and new goods that might be ap­pre­ci­ated by some­one else.

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