Kindergarten celebrates 50 years
Fifty years ago when Tu¯rangi was being built, as well as providing housing for the workers on the Tongariro Power Development, education was one of the main priorities.
So right next to Tu¯rangi’s first primary school, Tu¯rangi Kindergarten was built. In March this year, it celebrated 50 years of teaching Tu¯rangi tamariki.
To mark its half century, a committee of parents and teachers has organised a Tu¯rangi Kindergarten 50-year reunion and celebrations, which will be held on Friday, December 7 and Saturday, December 8.
On Friday there will be a small get-together for adult past pupils, former families and staff. The main event is on Saturday, when the kindergarten will host a community event. Everybody is welcome and it is free, though registrations to allow for catering would be appreciated. It will begin with a po¯whiri, there will be activities for the tamariki, food, and a chance to mix, mingle and look around the kindergarten.
Tu¯rangi Kindergarten was the first early childhood education centre in Tu¯rangi and it was not until the 1980s that the first kohanga reo opened, followed later by Purerehua and Best Start.
Te Reipa Morunga, one of the parents on the organising committee, says they are trying to make the reunion a community occasion.
“That’s the reason we’re pushing for the reunion. Tu¯rangi Kindergarten has been such a big part of the community and all the families in town came through here,” Te Reipa says.
“For the 50th we’ve had so much support from so many community organisations and businesses and that’s helped us create a free event.”
While the Friday is an opportunity for adults to meet and talk, the Saturday is the real focus because kindergartens are about children and families.
So far, 104 people have registered for the Saturday and more are expected to register because almost all of those who grew up in Tu¯rangi up until 1986 would have come to the kindergarten.
Head teacher Rose Ransfield, who has been in charge for 23 years, says the children who were at the kindergarten when she began teaching there are now bringing in their own children.
She says over the years the professionalism of the teaching has grown and there is more emphasis on delivering an educational programme within the kindergarten philosophy of play.
“Before, they just came, they played, they went home, whereas now we’ve got a much bigger focus on preparing them for school to making them confident and competent children through play.”
The original teachers were Heather Millar and Lesley Winsloe, who moved on to other kindergartens and has now retired but still relieves at Tu¯rangi occasionally. Children attended the morning or afternoon sessions.
The kindergarten’s original 1968 building was extended in 2010, with the playground extended at the same time and it now has a roll of 40 children aged from two upwards, who attend a full-day session from 8.30am to 2.30pm. It has four teachers — Rose, Whaea Tarn Eru, Whaea Mina Konui and one vacant position which will be filled in early 2019. It also has reliever Chintel Ngawati and teacher aides Donna Phillips and Amy McPherson. Te Reipa says one of the kindergarten’s strengths is the dedication of its teaching team and its warm, inclusive environment with wha¯nau at its heart.
The kindergarten charges no fees and special events are also free to the families.
Rose says the calm and welcoming atmosphere at the kindergarten comes about because the teachers love the children.
“It’s a very localised curriculum where what our children bring, we work on strengthening.
“A lot of our children come from low socio-economic families but we don’t see that as a barrier, we work on that and strengthen what they’ve got.”
That means that the children have activities you wouldn’t find in a city kindergarten. Smoking a trout, cooking lambs’ tails, hunting — all those are moments that can be learning opportunities. Links to Nga¯ti Tu¯wharetoa history and tikanga also happen naturally because those are all around and an integral part of the Tu¯rangi community, Rose says.
“It’s not a problem to call up a kauma¯tua or dial up a marae visit. They are more than accepting of our tamariki having those experiences.”
Teachers, children and parents at Tu¯rangi Kindergarten. The kindergarten is celebrating 50 years with a reunion and community event on December 7 and 8.