It takes a village... New facility for Hokianga Playcentre

Issue: Volume 99, Number 4

Posted: 12 March 2020
Reference #: 1HA6RW

A Hokianga Playcentre that was closed and had lost its licence has been refurbished and reopened thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Ministry of Education, $10,000 from Playcentre Aotearoa, and the drive and commitment of local families.

Rawene Playcentre, located in the former Rawene High School, was closed in 2017 due to its building being deemed unhealthy and unsafe. The two-year revamp project was a partnership between local whānau, Ministry of Education’s Tai Tokerau office and Playcentre Aotearoa.

Irene Iwikau from the Ministry’s Tai Tokerau office remembers how upset the local community was when told the early learning service had to be closed following health and council reports. She says the decision wasn’t taken lightly, and she was delighted to support the community through the project and attend the opening of the new facility last November.

Meeting needs

Ministry Tai Tokerau works closely with communities to establish the best ways to meet their needs and as the people of Rawene wanted full Māori immersion and non-immersion services, they were able to deliver the combination through funding to both the Playcentre and Kōhanga Reo, with Irene.

“We want to make sure that all children have access to quality early learning education before they go to school. I have always had a mantra: ‘why should children who are rural or isolated deserve any less than those who live in big cities?’” she says.

The Ministry works with communities, Iwi and health groups to identify the needs of families, and participation in early childhood education in Tai Tokerau is now at 95 percent. Achieving this can be challenging as Tai Tokerau has many remote areas, but options such as playgroups and Te Kura Correspondence School can help families who are geographically remote or don’t have transport, explains Irene.

Benefitting the community

Rawene Playcentre is rural, isolated and has a high percentage of Māori tamariki from its Hokianga community, says Keri Squires, Playcentre Federation Centre support co-ordinator for Northland. 

“Apart from Kōhanga Reo, there’s no other early childhood centre, daycare, or kindergarten in the area. It’s important for the children to have opportunities to learn and play together. The other great thing is it’s just below the primary school and the connection between the primary school and Playcentre is important for the children transitioning to the school,” she says.

Community hub

Rawene Playcentre was relicensed and opened as a new centre at the end of 2019 and was the first to open since the national amalgamation of the Playcentre Federation.

Playcentre parent Karee Owen says the 2017 closure was very disheartening for the small community as there are few organisations for children in the area.

“Playcentre is hugely important, not just for the education side, but it gives mums and children a chance to socialise. It’s a great place to meet people – especially for new mums and people new to the area. The kids love it here, and as a mum I really value the community that we can build through Playcentre. We get great support and training to help our kids learn and thrive,” she says.

Karee’s three-year-old daughter Gloria cut the ribbon at the opening. 

“It’s beautiful – it’s light and freshly painted and there’s a brand-new kitchen. We have lots of new toys and equipment and have had a lot more families come. We are very grateful,” says Karee.

Local kaumātua Hone Taimona blessed the site at the reopening, which was attended by up to three generations of Playcentre whānau, representatives from neighbouring Hokianga Playcentres and pupils from Rawene School.

Rawene Playcentre is open Wednesdays and Fridays, 10am to 2pm.

Useful resources

Te Whāriki Online provides context on the Playcentre philosophy and a large range of resources to support implementation of the early learning curriculum, Te Whāriki.

Find this on the Te Whāriki TKI website(external link).

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BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 11:44 am, 12 March 2020

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