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

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Monday, 26 August 2013

Hapa-Zome at Kindergarten

I find it strange how one day you can discover something you never knew existed, then all of a sudden everywhere you look, this same ‘something’ appears. This happened to me last week, when I came across some pictures of the technique 'Hapa-Zome' – certainly this was a totally new concept for me – and since then I have been reading about it on the internet (several times) and have even overheard a visiting teacher discussing this same process.

Being a new concept for me, I immediately thought about sharing this technique with the children at Kindergarten. We began this early last week, and still the children are choosing to re-visit this art, now independently.

Before I share the experiences of our Hapa-Zome at Mairtown, I should perhaps enlighten you with what Hapa-Zome actually is. According to my research Hapa-Zome was named and developed by India Flint, and is the Japanese art of pounding leaves and flowers into cloth to extract the plants natural pigments. The literal translation is leaf-dyeing in Japanese (Philpot, 2009).

Before I began working with the children we chatted about what was likely to happen; the entire group had an opportunity to share their ideas and theories. When we started (our first attempts involved putting the petals on a wooden block with the cloth on top and then hammering through the fabric), there was amazement as we all watched the pigments soak into the fabric.

It was interesting to listen to the children’s thinking when I asked them the question, ‘Where is the colour coming from?’  Some of the answers were ‘from the rainbows in the sky’ (and yes there was a rainbow that day), ‘from the end of the hammer’, and ‘it’s hiding in the block of wood’.

The more we worked and experimented with different petals, leaves and grasses, the more the children were able to clarify their thoughts, hypothesize, experiment, observe, compare, identify and test theories and communicate their findings and results. This is clearly hands-on science.

Science for young children should involve asking questions, probing for answers, conducting investigations, and collecting data. Young children should learn science (and all other areas of study) through active involvement – that is, through first-hand, investigative experiences (Wilson, 2008).

Children should be encouraged to work together “in building theories, testing those theories, and then evaluating what worked, what didn’t, and why”
 (Conezio & French, 2002, p. 13).

As the days went on, and we tried different techniques for our Hapa-Zome, the children came to the final conclusion that placing a plastic sheet over the petals with the cloth on the bottom, was the most effective way to extract the natural dyes. We also discovered that some of our bright red flower petals (such as hydrangeas) transferred onto the fabric as an almost cerise pink, whereas our pink petals (tea tree and cherry blossom) transferred as a quite unattractive brown, and our green leaves barely transferred any pigment.

The final piece of collaborative work looks, as I’m sure you’ll all agree, quite stunning. This is one the aspects that I love so much about early childhood education; engaging in an idea with the children, that teaches us all (me included) so much, and as a consequence results in something so beautiful.

“Spontaneous sciencing occurs whenever a child (or a teacher) sees something of interest and wonders about it” (Kilmer & Hofman, 1995, p. 55). A constructivist teacher recognizes such moments and pauses to observe, reflect, and explore with the children… By stopping to observe and reflect, teachers give children the opportunity to grow in appreciation and understanding of the world around them.” (Wilson, 2008).


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Welcoming Mandy Sunlight with a Mihi Whakatau

This term we have the pleasure of receiving guidance and teaching in our programme from local weaving expert Mandy Sunlight.

Working with artists and experts enables us to enrich our children’s lives with knowledge and experience from our wider community.

Each Tuesday Mandy works with our tamariki (children), kaiako (teachers), and parents/whānau as a kairaranga (weaver), to share her knowledge and expertise in the art of traditional weaving.

Mandy has a 25 year relationship with flax which begun as a child and was nurtured under the guidance of Emily Schuster at the age of 19. Mandy lived in the Hokianga for 25 years, and has maintained a love of teaching and passing on her skills with wananga throughout Te Taitokerau (Tuatara Design Store). Mandy is also a Mum in our Kindergarten whānau.

On Tuesday 6th of August we officially welcomed Mandy into our kindergarten as our kairaranga, with a mihi whakatau. Mandy was accompanied by her Whānau, Arana, Tuiata and Kōrari.

 A mihi whakatau is a formal way of respecting people by acknowledging their mana and tapu (dignity and sacredness). Mihi Whakatau is traditionally used for welcoming, introductions, openings and general purposes which take place off the Marae. A Mihi Whakatau is a speech (or speeches) of greeting made during an official welcome to acknowledge those gathered together for a particular purpose.

Mandy and her whānau were called inside by a small group of our girls "Haere mai, Haere mai" they beckoned. Our Pou Whakarewa Tikanaga Māori advisor, Roimata Macfarlane then led us through the mihi whaktau process; beginning with a karakia, then followed by a welcome speech.

Mandy is a taonga (treasure) in our community. She arrives with skills, knowledge and attributes which we feel blessed to receive. In acknowledgement of Mandy, Roimata had prepared a welcome appropriate for the occasion:

 Anei mātou, ngā kaiako, ngā tamariki me ngā whānau hoki o te Kura Kōhungahunga o Mairtown.
Kei te harikoa mātou kia tae mai i waenganui i a koutou, Mandy me tō whānau I tenei wā. Ko tenei he ra whakahirahira na e mea, he tino taonga koe ki a mātou, tō wairua, tō ahuatanga me tō Matauranga hoki.
 Mandy, kia maumahara ki tōnā mana āhua ake.
Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

Here we are the teachers, children and families of Mairtown Kindergarten.
We are all very happy to be here amongst you Mandy and your family at this time.
This is a significant time because you are such a taonga to us, your wairua, your inner essence and your knowledge.
Mandy, cherish your absolute uniqueness.

Therefore, greetings, greetings, greetings to us all.

To support Roimata’s korero, the children, parents and teachers then stood and sung a waiata (song); E toru nga mea.

 Mandy then rose to reciprocate a speech and was also supported with a waiaita from her whānau. Then it was time to hongi me te hariru.

Hongi – the unique and very sacred Maori physical embrace wherein the two sides become one. The hongi is the traditional greeting of nose pressing. It is the exchange of the ha, or breath of life…This greeting makes the visitor at one with the tangata whenua [hosts]. The action of performing hongi is associated with the hariru. The two people shake hands, each using the right hand. At the same time the left hand maybe placed on or near the other person’s shoulder. This physical contact between manuhiri and tangata whenua lifts the waewae tapu/sacredness of first time visitors, allowing us all to be one.

Our mihi whakatau for Mandy cemented the beginning of a relationship of ako (teaching and learning). We feel very excited about the work and experiences that are already beginning to unfold, and anticipate our learning journey over the next 6 weeks.

Kaupapa Māori assessment moves beyond a culturally situated perspective of learning, to learning being seen deeply located with Māori ways of knowing and being.

Another of our taonga, Roimata Macfarlane

“Puritia ngā taonga a nġa tupuna mō te ora, ā mātou tamariki”
“Holdfast to the cultural treasures of our ancestors for the future benefit of our children”
(Te Whatu Pōkeka, p.51)


Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Recognising Excellence

On Thursday 8th August, we had great pleasure in surprising Christine with the information that she has been nominated for a NEiTA Excellence in Teaching Award.

National Excellence in Teaching Awards are intended to recognise and honour representatives of teaching excellence within their local communities, and regionally.

Christine's nomination was undertaken by one of our parents Daniela. Daniela wrote on behalf of our community and teaching team to share with the NEiTA foundation annotations and evidence of Christine's on-going commitment to being the 'best teacher she can be'. We feel truly blessed to work alongside such as inspiring and dedicated professional.

Thank you Daniela for your time and energy taken to make this nomination. I'm sure you all agree, Christine wholeheartedly deserves this auspicious recognition.

Me te mihi nui, na Kim

Christine and Arana exchanging hongi me te hariru.
Within the silence of this gesture, a volume of words is spoken.


Thursday, 8 August 2013

Fire Thursday

Once again this year we have began introducing fires into our programme. We hold the fires weekly on a Thursday. This has fondly been renamed as 'Fire Thursday' by our children!

The fires provide warmth and food but perhaps most importantly are a time for social engagement. Children have been known to sit around the fire for extended periods of time, gazing into the flickering flames and chatting away.

One of the highlights of ‘Fire Thursday’ is preparing the fire. The children have become experts at knowing which materials are needed to start a fire - scrunching paper, laying the paper and kindling into the fire and adding some pine cones for a delicious scent – all ready for one of the teachers to light.

Children work with purpose, direction and commitment; everyone is encouraged to make their contribution and to have their say (kotahitanga).

Sharing the task of building a fire. Being part of a group and working together
(Mana Tangata).

Developing leadership skills and learning from each other.

Over the course of this winter we have cooked many different types of kai, from smores, toasted marshmallows and sausages to delicious garlic bread (still a firm favourite!).


Sharing food together assists in building relationships with each other.


Thanks to Jaimee's dad - Walter - for gifting us some tea tree for burning. Sharing resources from home enables our children to feel a sense of belonging at Kindergarten and enables them to be involved in, and guide our programme.

Fire Thursday is a day that is very much looked forward to by all, and over the week the children often reflect on their fire experiences.

This wonderful drawing by Emma, along with her words enables Emma, to make sense of and amalgamate her experiences and feelings on our Kindergarten fires.

"I am cooking bread. We just get paddles and put some dough on the paddles. We just put it over the fire and it tastes like pancakes."

"There's the smoke coming out. Oh and we have a safety bubble" (Marcus).

"I like the bread. Don't go in the safety bubble. I think I know why you don't go in the safety bubble, cause if you walk in you might get burnt" (Claudia)