Kinder­garten cel­e­brates 50 years

Taupo & Turangi Weekender - - Front Page - Lau­rilee McMichael ■ Email tgikindyre­[email protected] for a reg­is­tra­tion form.

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.”

Photo / Lau­rilee McMichael

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.

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