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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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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 

Sarah 







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


















Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Living our culture in our everyday

 



E kore au e ngaro,

He kākano I ruia

Mai I Rangiātea

I will never be lost,

For I am a seed

Sown in the heavens

For all of us, as individuals, groups and nation, our culture gives us strength and direction, and as a teaching team and a learning centre it is important to acknowledge and celebrate this fact within our collective way of being and our curriculum at Mairtown Kindergarten.


Nicki Lisa Cole (2019), explains culture consists of the values, beliefs, systems of language, communication, and practices that people share in common and that can be used to define them as a collective. Culture also includes the material objects that are common to that group or society.

 As was explained in our previous blog, we have experienced lots of changes and transitions over the last year, and to a degree that is a constant process within a kindergarten, as tamariki and kaiako join us, grow and develop and then move on to pastures new. Throughout the process of change and renewal it has always been really important to hold on to the identity and culture which makes our kindergarten so special.

 





Our centre philosophy is key to expressing our centre culture, and guiding our decision making to ensure our curriculum and relationships remain authentic. Each time the teaching team changes, we review the philosophy so that we know it fits with us as individuals and collectively.

The tikanga which have always been the central pou (supporting pillars) of our cultural expression are Manaakitanga and Whanaungatanga. The Māori dictionary defines these tikanga as…

Whanaungatanga - relationship, kinship, sense of family connection - a relationship through shared experiences and working together which provides people with a sense of belonging.

Manaakitanga - hospitality, kindness, generosity, support - the process of showing respect, generosity and care for others.









For us, all learning begins from a place of nurturing, relationship and belonging; and recognising all tamariki bring with them their own whānau culture, knowledge and gifts which they then build on within their learning environment. We seek to promote an excitement for learning within our learning community and see play as the essential means by which tamariki explore and develop their skills, strategies and existing knowledge (Mairtown Philosophy). 















We also love to celebrate special individual milestones, birthdays with our special birthday ritual, and the time of leaving us to take the next step in learning by adorning the tamaiti with our beautiful Kahupukuwhiwhi. These Mairtown kindergarten rituals recognising the importance of these landmark events for each tamaiti, and their own important place within our kindergarten whānau.



We love to recognise the mana of Te Tiriti ō Waitangi in our rituals, routines and curriculum provision. This document preserves the rights of Māori as tangata whenua of Aotearoa, and also offers those who have come to settle here since the signing of te Tiriti ō Waitangi, the ability to make this their home too and a framework within which to live respectfully.

As we express in our centre pepeha, we all come from ngā hau e whā (the four winds) to gather and learn together in the beautiful spaces we share; the kindergarten itself and our wonderful Mair Park, home of our Nature programme. Our pepeha has become a way for us to come together and understand the context we are each part of here – our geographical features, the peoples who have come before us and ourselves as a group. This is an understanding which forms the basis of our connections at kindergarten, and we are so proud to see the way our tamariki show their ownership of our pepeha, standing together to sing the words and do the actions which depict what they are describing.

                                                             

Our Morena song, mihi mo te kai (which offers gratitude for the food we have been provided with and those who have prepared it), and our mihi mo te ngahere (our nature programme greeting to the environment we are entering for the morning), are examples of ways we share our bi-cultural expression on a daily basis. 







We honour the potential which individual tamariki demonstrate within their ways of being, knowing and doing at kindergarten, qualities which demonstrate the principles of Tika; doing the right thing, Pono; being honest and truthful and Aroha; showing love and caring, with our Tui award; as these Kaupapa all strengthen their leadership and learning potential. We also celebrate our emerging leaders with our Rangitiratanga award.






Sharing kai is also something we value highly as part of our Mairtown culture; offering us opportunities to come together as a group and get to know each other better, building our sense of unity and sharing aspects of our individual cultural knowledge. We love to learn about and celebrate the diversity of cultures within our community, and it is always special to share in some way within kindergarten, a special day or event which is of cultural importance to members of our kindergarten whānau. Recently we enjoyed recognising two significant annual events for our kindergarten whānau and nation, first Waitangi Day and then the beginning of the Year of the Ox, during Chinese and Korean New Year.

 
















As a teaching team we are always learning, yet always have so much still to learn every day. We are lucky to be on this special journey with so many wonderful people around us at Mairtown kindergarten, and we love the rich cultural knowledge that each tamaiti and whānau brings with them to strengthen our shared culture. Learning and growing together will surely support our tamariki to grow up strong in identity, language and culture, able to engage with new contexts, opportunities and challenges with optimism and resourcefulness (Te Whāriki, 2017).

Tangata ako ana i

To kāinga, te tūranga ki

Te marae, tau ana

A person nurtured in the

community contributes

strongly to society


Ma te wā

Anne

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