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Big birthday and a bi-cultural approach

Martinborough Kindy teachers Trinity Shaw [left], Corina Lawson, Megan Gibson, Jo Lowe and Allie Hiemstra [Jane Firth-McMahon absent]. PHOTO/SUE TEODORO

Martinborough Kindergarten celebrated a significant milestone this month when it turned 20 and launched a new philosophy.

Balloons, face-painting, snacks, games and, of course, a big birthday cake were the order of the day as more than 70 children, parents and teachers turned out to mark the occasion.

Head teacher Megan Gibson said the kindergarten started in 2001 with a relocated building from Hinakura School that cost $1.

The kindergarten was the brainchild of the then principal of Martinborough School, Bruce McMichael.

“He had the vision to start an early childhood centre here. So they started this centre 20 years ago,” Gibson said.

It opened its doors with only two teachers and 30 children.

“Now, we have five teachers and 54 children on our rolls, with 40 attending every day.

“Back in the day, they didn’t have much money, so they had to get a lot of funding and grants and donations to get resources.”

She said while funding was still needed, the school was a relatively well-resourced early childhood centre these days.

“We are really supported by the community.”

She said the sandpit and lovely outdoor environment would soon be supplemented by a unique garden funded by a grant from the South Wairarapa District Council.

Inside, the centre was well stocked with a range of resources to help children learn and play.

“They learn through their play,” she said.

Gibson had been at the kindergarten for 12 years.

“I love being here. It’s a job that brings me lots of pleasure working with young children and seeing them learn and grow.”

The centre was using the celebration to launch its new philosophy based on the principles of the early childhood curriculum Te Whariki.

Centre teacher Corina Lawson said the philosophy focused on a bi-cultural approach to teaching and learning. It had been developed through consultation and discussion.

“Words like love, trust, respect, community focus and friendship came up,” she said.

The philosophy is set out in a document that states its foundation is: “Responsive and reciprocal relationships between people, places and things.”

The kindergarten aimed to foster an environment where respectful relationships, encouragement, warmth and acceptance was the norm among kaiako, tamariki and whanau.

The approach was based on empowerment, holistic development, family and community.

Each child’s learning journey was supported and their mana upheld by a strong emphasis on Te Ao Maori.

Children attended from within Martinborough and the wider South Wairarapa community, including Pirinoa and Kahutara.

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