Haere mai! Welcome to Mairtown Kindergarten's blog.

Nau Mai Haere mai. Welcome to Mairtown Kindergarten's blog.

21 Princes Street, Kensington, Whangarei, New Zealand

Phone: 09 437 2742

Email: mairtown@nka.org.nz

Monday, 6 September 2021

Papatūānuku has a tummy ache


Anne introduced us to a wonderful pukapuka called ‘Papatūānuku has a tummy ache’.  We thought this was a wonderful resource to share with the tamariki of Mairtown Kindergarten as our tamariki have connections with many of the Atua, through our kindergarten environment and also on our Nature Programme. 

This story is written by Annette Coppings. It has beautiful illustrations and aligns with our enviroschools kaupapa, with the aim to empower young people to, “make a change for sustainability.”  The narrative in the pukapuka is based on the Fox River Landfill disaster in 2019 when over 11,000 rubbish bags of debris were collected in a clean up after the landfill was washed out following extreme weather. (https://enviroschools.org.nz/news-and-events/articles/papatuanuku-has-a-tummy-ache/)

Papatūānuku in Māori “creation stories” is the Earth Mother. This Earth is where we live, where we grow our food and from which we gain sustenance. As we continue to fill our landfills with toxic non-biodegradable rubbish, her puku and friendly worms are all suffering.

We must widen… “our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

– Albert Einstein

This pukapuka has been revisited many times over the year, and we wanted to make a visual representation of her with the tamariki of Mairtown Kindergarten. We believed this would support their learning and link it with was happening within the daily life of kindergarten.  Tamariki helped draw a large illustration of Papatūānuku and we placed her on the wall. We then placed a bag on the wall to act as her puku.  After morning tea and lunch times we started to collect rubbish that was left behind on the tables and deck area, putting it in 'the puku' of Papatūāku to demonstrate the destination and outcome of the rubbish we were collecting at kindergarten.

“When tamariki/ students connect with their place and its people, and then plan, design and take action, they are creating change. Through this empowering experience, they will become life-long change-makers.  The collective exploration is based in the concept of ako, where all participants are simultaneously learners and teachers, and everybody learns from each other.  It is a process of co-creation between people and all of the elements and energies around us. Caring for our place and the whole planet becomes a living curriculum where skills and competencies are gained through experience and mahi within meaningful community settings” (Enviroschools ; https://enviroschools.org.nz/ ).

  •  An ecological identity allows us to experience the earth as our home ground, and leaves us determined to live in honorable relationship with our planet.  - Ann Pelo 

When asked what can we do ...... 

here are some of the tamariki voices:

“Put our rubbish in the bin” – Leo

“Don’t throw rubbish on the ground” – Pippa A

“Re-use it, we can make new things” – Ethan

“Oh yeah we can make plants out of old bottles” – Pippa A

“If someone else puts rubbish on the ground we can pick it up” – Pippa

"We don't want it on the beach'' - Theo

"We can give the worms all the scraps, put them in the scrap bowls on the tables" - Riley

"Recycle" - Lucy 

"We can't give her rubbish cos it's made out of plastic" - Theo

"I take my rubbish home" - Erin

"I have a compost wheel barrow at my house" - Leo

"Playcentre has a compost, they have a log with lots of bugs!" - Lucy

"I've got lots and lots and lots of worms at my house" - Jackson

Tamariki also developed and communicated a wonderful sense of empathy for Papatūānuku.

“My Mum can cook for Papatūānuku and make her tummy feel better. She will make her noodles” - Leina

"We could tip all the rubbish out of her" - Riley

"Clear all the rubbish away and take it out of her puku" - Leina

Mairtown kindergarten upholds the Enviroschools kaupapa, which is about creating a healthy, peaceful, sustainable world through learning and taking action together.

This kaupapa guides all that we do and is embodied in five guiding principles that underpin the whole Enviroschools journey:

Empowered Students are enabled to participate in meaningful ways in the life of their early childhood centre or school. Their unique perspectives are valued for the knowledge and insight that they bring, and they are supported to take action for real change. 
Learning for Sustainability recognises the types of teaching and learning that use connecting experiences to develop holistic and ecological perspectives, foster student enquiry, decision-making, action, and reflection, and create sustainable outcomes. 
Māori Perspectives honour the status of tangata whenua in this land and the value of indigenous knowledge and wisdoms in enriching and guiding learning and action. 
Respect for the Diversity of People and Cultures acknowledges the unique gifts, contributions and perspectives of individuals and groups, reinforcing the value of participatory decision-making and collaborative action. 
Sustainable Communities act in ways that nurture people and nature, now and in the future, to maintain the health and viability of our environment, society, culture and economy. (Enviroschools).

It is wonderful to see our tamariki developing an understanding of our choices and actions and the impact it has on our environment. Papatūānuku plays such a big role at our kindergarten  "We value Papatūānuku as an important teacher; in nature herself the possibilities to learn and grow have no limits" (Mairtown Kindergarten Philosophy, 2020).

Ngā mihi


Thursday, 3 June 2021

Our environment speaks for itself

Over our last term break Kaiako worked collaboratively to change our inside environment, taking careful consideration regarding what we wanted to achieve. Our objective was to create a calm environment that reflected who we are, our philosophy, our kindergarten pepeha and the whanau and their tamariki. We wanted open spaces but spaces that allowed tamariki to have quiet time and encouraged independence.


The environment needs to invite children to become involved and encourage them to explore a wide variety of materials (Fraser & Gestwicki, 2002).

Firstly, we looked at our first impressions, i.e. what did we see when we walked through our front doors. First impressions give a small glimpse into what else is to come, and also a sense of the atmosphere and priorities of our kindergarten.  

Whakawhanaungatanga is central to our philosophy. Kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face conversations) is something that we value immensely, and this is what we wanted our first impressions to reflect. We also reflected on the question in Te Whariki; “What features of the ECE environment help children and whānau feel that this is a place where they belong?” 

We began by moving our couch/whānau area closer to the front of our environment, while also adding a shelf to display all our whanau photos and the clay creations that tamariki have made. Portfolios of the tamariki, plants and fresh cushions finished the space, creating a sense of calm.

“Creating a homely environment in our ECE centres tells children and families that we care. It can create a sense of familiarity and calm for children in what can sometimes be a startling environment. Homely touches throughout your ECE centre can not only make children feel at home, but it gives them freedom to explore and grow into confident, sociable and competent young people” (Jitbug, September 2019). 

This space provides our parents and whanau with opportunities to spend time in our environment while not feeling like they are in the center of the learning environment. Since the changes we have noticed many parents and whanau utilising this space, while tamariki are using this space to revisit their learning by exploring their portfolio books. 


“It’s open and inviting and great to see whanau pictures and couches when you walk in the door”- spontaneous feedback.


As we move through our inside environment you can now find a new book nook, providing tamariki with opportunities to relax. We then have our puzzles and an area to explore the light table, tabletop activities and more. Our block area is still situated at the back of our environment which also converts into our mat space.

"Collaboration is one of the strongest messages that the environment, in its role as the third teacher communicates. An environment that is planned to act as the third teacher is particularly effective in helping children learn skills for working with others in a group.” (Fraser & Gestwicki, 2002,). 

We have plants and white sheer curtains framing our spaces including our art space which is off to the side.

“I love that the art space is all together, utilising the art studio that was created years ago” – spontaneous feedback. 


Our changes now are in line with our philosophy which states “our secure and warmly respectful environment supports tamariki to explore and play freely. This fosters their ability to be active learners and leaders” (Mairtown Kindergarten philosophy).

Ngā mihi nui

Emma Quigg


Thursday, 15 April 2021

Celebrating 10 Years on the Nature Programme


‘In all things of nature there is something of the marvellous’ Aristotle


In Term 2, 2011 the teaching team and the tamariki at Mairtown Kindergarten embarked on a new journey.  This year will mark 10 years since the Mairtown Nature Programme was established.  It has been a wonderful journey now for over 400 tamariki and whānau!  Today, it continues to be such an important part of the kindergarten and our community.

Back in 2010 the Mairtown Teaching Team, had a shared vision to “….provide the tamariki and whanau with ongoing opportunities to develop a deeper understanding and relationship with nature through play and education” (Mairtown Kindergarten, Kauri Scholarship Application, 2010).

After the teaching team were successful in their application for the Kauri Scholarship from the Northland Kindergarten Association and with the support of the kindergarten, whānau and tamariki, Mairtown began it's journey into the establishment of the first Nature Programme for the Northland Kindergarten Association.

“Nature is the children’s chosen place for encountering materials, children encounter the environment with all their body” (The Diana School).

“I have been very blessed to have been a part of the initial set up of the Mairtown’s Nature Programme.  All the hard work has paid off in the way that it has had such a positive influence on many children’s lives, being able to spend time in our local ngahere with the children and their whānau over the many years that I worked there this has been a highlight of my career” Zair Taylor (Teacher/Head Teacher, 2010 – 2019).

I think it’s incredible that Mairtown kindergarten have been running this programme for 10 years now, what incredible acts of dedication the staff and community have offered to keep this amazing programme running.

The inspiration came after seeing a presentation about Forest Schools in England and Europe. I left the meeting with a head full of possibilities, Mairpark was on our doorstep we just needed to vision and design a programme that would suit both our Northland climate and native backdrop. I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked alongside Zair Taylor, Christine Alford, Donna Manson and Sarah Nathan at this time, they were the perfect team of ‘can do attitudes’ needed to navigate the many challenges of creating a new style of excursions with NKA. The rest is history now, Mairtown’s Nature programme has had a huge influence in the lives and mahi of others. It fills my heart to think of how many tamariki and whānau have had opportunity to learn and play collectively outside in nature, as she intended. " - Kim Townsend (Teacher/Head Teacher 2008 - 2017)

The Nature Programme has had a few minor changes over the years and modifications. But every Friday our 10 eldest tamariki are given the opportunity to be active, take risks, enjoy their experiences in the outdoors and have built an understanding of the natural world and a deep respect for papatuanuku.  This programme is led by the tamariki, they are able to set the pace for the day and take responsibility for their own adventures, challenges and assess their own risks.

“The Nature Programme didn’t just impact children but to see the awareness and awe on parents, visitors and other staff faces was inspirational.  It provided an opportunity for everyone to experience not just nature but an emotional, spiritual, physical and co-operative journey.  At the beginning, it solidified what Mairtown was trying to achieve as a nature based kindergarten.  I remember Kim and I going to Mairpark to see if it was viable.  We began with a trolley full of resources, which has now dwindled to two backpacks.  I recently saw an ex student who said the Nature Programme was the best part of her time at Kindergarten.  For me personally I based it all on the children.  Not what I could teach them but how they could teach me to remember - simple, exploration fun time in the bush. I was one of the lucky one who never, in all my years doing this had a wet dayJ.  This place has special meaning as I was bought up in the area so Mairpark was like returning to my childhood playground”.  Donna (Teacher 1998 – 2017).

Over the years we have been collecting feedback from our whānau and tamariki who have been part of the programme.  Here is a snippet of feedback from whānau and tamariki.

“…. truly special to see how the children react and engage with the environment … really amazing group narrative of “their” nature programme …. deep attachments to these special places” – A Ducrot.

“… children took immediate control of their surroundings exploring, jumping, climbing and discovering ….stepping back watching my child participate in so many adventures, fearlessly and to feel her excitement to belong … beauty of the Nature Programme is the ‘life skills’ learned that will stay with these tamariki forever” – Unknown.

“ L just LOVES his nature p days he tells us with excitement all of his adventures he shared with his friends …. the environment does encourage fostering relationships and working with his peers” L Newport.

“… has not only enriched G’s life but has now filtered through our family as well.  We live under our great Maunga Parahaka …. has sparked our enthusiasm for our great beautiful forest” – M & R Proctor

"... the meadow and having a hot milo with a marshmallow, oh and bum sliding!" - Roman age: 11

Kayla (10) Toby (9) Makenzie & Leah (12)

"The children also gained from their involvement in the programmes. This involved both intellectual and social development. There was a clear growth in their knowledge and ability to identify and talk about the plants, insects and birds they regularly encountered. The children also developed an awareness of the fragile nature of the natural environment and the need to protect it. Equally important were the opportunities to assume leadership and ownership of the daily experiences and the collaborative relationships that developed. For many children facing and overcoming new physical challenges was a significant area of growth." (Brent Mawson, 2014). 

Mā te kimi ka kite, mā te kite ka mōhio, mā te mōhio ka mārama!
Seek and discover, discover and know, know and become enlightened!

This blog is in all reality a small brief of the amazing things and the many benefits that happen in the ngahere.   We know that the Mairtown Nature Programme is firmly embedded and is an important part of our  curriculum that we offer.  Thank you to all the wonderful whānau, tamariki, businesses, community funding and volunteers who over the years have supported this programme.  Most importantly to our kaiako and  Nature Programme Co-ordinators who started this journey and those that continue this mahi with continued passion, dedication and vision.  

We look forward to many more years of enjoying and learning not only about and within our beautiful environment, but creating wonderful memories of this special ngahere alongside our tamariki.  We know that at Mairtown Kindergarten we will continue to have such a wonderful connection with our natural environment and that we are fortunate to have this on our door step.

Ngā mihi 


Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Wheelie good time!

On Wednesday the 24th March we held our annual Wheels-a-thon fundraiser at the Kensington courts, and what an amazing afternoon we all shared together. This was my first Wheels-a-thon experience as it was for many of our new families and whanau at Mairtown Kindergarten.

Over the past month we have been all excitedly discussing the upcoming event and counting down on our kindergarten calendar at whānau time. What I have loved about these moments is that tamariki who have attended this event last year have been able to share their experiences with us all. I can see the value of this yearly tradition and the importance of inclusiveness within our kindergarten community, allowing us to make connections between past and present.

Tradition represents a critical piece of our culture at Mairtown Kindergarten, helping form the structure and foundation, reminding us that we are part of history that defines our past and shapes who we are today.

Tradition contributes to a sense of comfort and belonging. It brings whanau together and allows us to reconnect. Tradition serves as an avenue for creating lasting memories for our kindergarten community. These yearly traditions were one of the reasons that inspired me to begin working at Mairtown Kindergarten.

As the weeks went on, we also began to discuss what we would need to bring to the wheels-a-thon. Included is just some of the ideas shared;

“My brother is coming too, do you want to know what I’m dressing up as, spider man, I’m bringing my bike, you will see how big my bike is, its blue, did you know that.”–Julia

“My mum comes after Kindy and we go to the wheel-o-thon” – Leina

“My scooter, I’m going to being my scooter” Helena

“I’m riding my bike” Sienna-Rose

“I’m going to ride my bike” Ruby

“I’m going to ride my blue bike” Beauden

“I’m going to ride my green bike you know” Paul

When the tamariki arrived to the Wheels-a-thon I was able to reference back to our conversations that we had. I could see a spider man, blue and green bikes, scooters and so much more. By 4.30pm the Kensington courts were filled with a variety of wheels, tamariki and their whanau. We had bikes, scooters, trikes and even dads on their skateboards lines up ready to go. 

Paired with our wheels we had super-hero’s, princesses, butterflies, ninja turtles, dinosaurs and so many decorated wheels. Despite all the wheels, costumes and decorations, what stood out to me the most was the smiles, the laughter, conversations observed and the joy and excitement that was evident during this event. 

This annual event has been running for many years and over the years it has provided wonderful ways for whanau to relax and socialise out of the kindergarten. It also supports kaiako and whānau to work together, building a partnership for tamariki, fostering that sense of belonging within the kindergarten. 

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi. Engari, he toa takitini.

Success is not the work of one, but the work of many.

As I reflect back on the day, I am proud to be involved in such an amazing annual event/ tradition. I now hold my own memories to share for many years to come. 

I would like to thank our kindergarten community and whānau for all their wonderful support, making it such an enjoyable and fun afternoon. The money raised from this event will go towards our outside blinds.

Nga mihi nui

Emma Q