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

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Our Mairtown Kindergarten Treaty


As our kindergarten whānau were settling in to the new year together, and Waitangi Day was approaching, I reflected on two things; how could we introduce the importance of Waitangi Day to our tamariki in a way which was meaningful and relatable to them, and how could our establishing community strengthen common understandings about working together and relating to each other and our environment in positive ways?

It seemed that te Tiriti ō Waitangi could open a door to beginning a shared kōrero, building towards both goals.

The New Zealand Curriculum states: “The Treaty of Waitangi is one of eight principles in The New Zealand Curriculum that provide a foundation for schools’ decision making.

The Treaty of Waitangi principle puts students at the centre of teaching and learning, asserting that they should experience a curriculum that engages and challenges them, is forward-looking and inclusive, and affirms New Zealand’s unique identity” (Clements, 2016).


During whānau time in the week of Waitangi Day, I spoke with the tamariki about how te Tiriti had been created, and signed by Māori chiefs, more than 180 years ago, with the intention of making it possible for Māori and the new English settlers to share life in Aotearoa. This is a special document which only our nation has. I wondered if they felt it would be useful for our whānau to think about and discuss what we needed to consider, for tamariki, kaiako and our environment, in order for everyone to enjoy kindergarten life and learn together too?  There was a general agreement that there were things that we needed to talk about, so the process of creating our own Mairtown Kindergarten Treaty began.

Throughout the ongoing education experiences our tamariki will experience, there will be many opportunities for them to discover more about the history of Aotearoa, and of te Tiriti, but at this stage my desire was to introduce an understanding of the existence and intention of the document by allowing them to explore the principles of te Tiriti ō Waitangi, those of Protection, Partnership and Participation, within a context which had meaning in their own lives and experience.

Our next step was to discuss each principle individually – what would this look like at kindergarten, and how could we make sure we were making it happen in our daily life?

Over a period of time, we would talk together at whānau time. One by one, I introduced a principle by name, and we shared what it meant, and how that could look at Mairtown kindergarten. We began our treaty with We will… to show that if this was to happen, we would all need to do the mahi together.

When it comes to introducing early childhood classroom rules, it’s best if you get the students to invest in the rules, too. If you’re really smart, you’ll get them to think that they came up with the ideas themselves! Getting students to help you come up with the ground rules is a great way to get them invested as well as get them to take ownership of each rule. (Knechel, 2021)

Throughout the process, I was so impressed with the engagement, contribution and thoughtfulness of tamariki and kaiako, with so many ideas being offered and discussed. It was agreed that Protection meant that we (including our environment) would all be kept safe, Partnership meant that we would be a team, and Participation meant that everyone could take part where they wished to.

As we unpacked each principle, we talked about what we would all need to think about and do in order to make it happen, and many insightful ideas were shared.

When all of the principles had been talked about individually, I created one document from the three lists, then re-presented that to the group. I asked them if they felt that I had put all of their ideas down correctly and in the right place. Interestingly, there were some who felt it was not quite complete, or that actions were not noted under the correct principle, so I noted down the changes that needed to be made and re drafted the document.

 I then re presented the document again, and this time there was consensus that the document was acceptable to everyone and that they felt happy to sign that they would uphold the treaty as now written.

Once our signing ceremony was done, our treaty was placed on the wall beside our whāriki. This final step was reached after several weeks had passed, but the revisiting of the discussion over a number of opportunities had allowed all of our tamariki to be involved, to consider the concepts we discussed, and to be heard if they had thoughts they wished to share.

Since these discussions, it has been amazing to hear tamariki reminding each other of them in play or bringing thoughts about them into group conversations. As with all community structures, we are not all always perfect and living within our treaty has its bumps and wobbles, but it is so helpful to build our community within our shared understandings. This process was also a great way to introduce understandings of the unique identity of our bicultural nation in a positive and aspirational way to our young learners and future leaders, as tamariki experience the importance of upholding a shared agreement of what we all need from each other in order to live and learn successfully together.

Ultimately, the rules become a tool for learning about being a member of a democratic community. Each rule represents a step in the process of our children learning to live together in a community of their own creation. And teaching community building skills is one of the most important things we do. That's the road to happiness. (Teacher Tom, 2009)

Ko te kai a te rangitira he kōrero

The food of chiefs is dialogue

Ma to wā

Anne Bawden

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Our New Mud Kitchen Outside Space

Our mud kitchen at Mairtown Kindergarten was made by whānau, (Nigel, Phil and Mike, three fathers) in 2014 and has moved around the kindergarten finding its perfect spot for some time. Well, I think we may have found one! He māra kai had come to an end, currently relocating its spot within the kindergarten, so we thought this may be a perfect spot to create a mud kitchen area. The mud kitchen was re-positioned nestled underneath our Ti kouka/ cabbage tree and beside our sandpit, allowing tamariki to explore and reigniting their interest. Tamariki noticed this new space and it has become a very busy and popular spot to explore on their own and alongside their e hoa.  

Mud play encourages creative thinking and supports tamariki to freely create with the open-ended resources on offer. It’s about the process not the end product. It provides opportunities for imaginative play and allows tamariki to act out their own play scenarios. Mud pies, soup, blueberry pancakes, coffee and tea and food for the dog have been a few creations made in the mud kitchen so far.

"What children learn does not follow as an automatic result from what is taught, rather, it is in large part due to the children’s own doing, as a consequence of their activities and our resources."
 —Loris Malaguzzi, The Hundred Languages of Children

Actively playing with mud also has many health benefits. “Scientists have now confirmed something that children have always instinctively known; playing in mud is a joyful experience. Recent research has shown that dirt contains microscopic bacteria called Mycobacterium Vaccae which stimulates the immune system and increases the levels of serotonin in our brains, an endorphin that soothes, calms, and helps us to relax (Rupiper, 2017).

Mud play allows tamariki to develop, refine and practice many skills; such as fine and gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination, turn taking, confidence and independence, opportunities to take the lead, curiosity, exploring through their senses, mathematical opportunities, language development and cognitive growth. Mud play also provides a connection to nature, opportunities to explore, ground themselves, and an appreciation for Papatūānuku and the world around them.

The enviro-schools kaupapa guide our teaching, and we uphold Papatūānuku as an important kaiako; in nature herself the possibilities to learn and grow have no limits” (Mairtown Kindergarten Philosophy, 2020). 

Tamariki have been working hard alongside their kaiako to transform this spot into a beautiful area that is welcoming, and inspires creativity, imagination, and curiosity. Firstly, we had to remove the old dirt, transporting it to our he māra kai, using many buckets. During this time digging and transporting the dirt tamariki shared their own experiences, sharing different techniques and stories of helping in the garden with whānau at home.

We then raked the area so it was flat, then began the planning process. We sourced some bark from around our bark area, laid out the stepping stones creating a pathway, then added our bark. We also unscrewed the lid off our old wooden water barrel, removed the water and repurposed it to create a home for our mud. Next, we needed to plan our planting, deciding what we needed to make this space its own, and creating a little barrier between the mud kitchen and sandpit. We sourced a plant already established within our environment and after a hard day of tamariki and kaiako working together and problem solving around how to remove it, we were able to relocate some of the plant, dividing it up into smaller cuttings and enclosing the space.

Lastly, we added some metal resources, which included pots, spoons and jugs and a few self-watering hanging planters with herbs. During a visit from Kim Townsend our Professional Practice Manager, she shared her knowledge around replanting plants. From her knowledge we then decided to give our relocated plants a haircut, using the cuttings for play and hoping this would make it easier for the plant to recover from transplant shock.  

This project has allowed us at Mairtown Kindergarten to weave the Enviroschools guiding principles and kaupapa into the processes and daily practices within our playscape. We were able to reuse materials and equipment from around the kindergarten, gain knowledge through research and conversations and empower learners through planning and active participation throughout this project. We will be able to continue using this knowledge when we begin our Enviroschools garden project later in the year. 

Ngā mihi
Emma Quigg

Thursday, 10 February 2022

Tui - A Beautiful Gift

A couple of weeks ago on a Monday, we received a call from Emma our administration superstar!  To say that she had found a Tui, sadly this Tui had passed away.  Initially I was hesitant to say bring it in, as the Tui I find are such majestic beautiful birds and I love watching them in my own back yard enjoying the kowhai flowers and on the Nature Programme flying, soaring and at this time of year very active and territorial. 

Though after talking with the rest of the team, it was agreed that this would be a great learning opportunity for our tamariki and ourselves to be able to have a close up and real view of this beautiful bird.

"In Culture - Tui is a natural heritage animal - in Māori culture, the bird is associated with life fulfilment, confidence and spiritual harmony.  They are said to be messengers of the Gods and Goddesses.  They acted as a medium to communicate with the gods and goddesses in Māori beliefs"(https://www.nznature.net/) 

For those of you who have never been to Mairtown Kindergarten, manu in particular the Tui is very special to us for many reasons.  First it is on our Mairtown logo, it is displayed in many ways around our kindergarten, through art work that is hung on our walls, when a tamaiti leaves it is given in the form of a glazed tui as a gift, it is even on our kindergarten gates made out of wrought iron.  

We also have a special 'Tui Award' for our tamariki -  recognise tamariki who consistently demonstrate attributes of the kaupapa we are learning about and acknowledging at kindergarten. In early childhood there are many different ways to uphold the kaupapa of Tika; doing the right thing, Pono; being honest and truthful and Aroha; showing love and caring: all of which strengthen the leadership and learning potential of tamariki.

"Supporting children in their growing awareness and interest in animals can lead to deeper feelings of empathy in young children, more positive classroom relationships, and social-emotional development". (Selly, 2014)

Emma, brought the Tui into kindergarten and shared her story of how she found the Tui with the tamariki.  

"Vygotsky’s theoretical perspective that an environmental playground provides a rich authentic context for children to learn from hands on active exploration of their environment. Combining children’s natural curiosity with animals provides a powerful pedagogical tool building children’s self-concepts, science skills, providing opportunities for children to develop sensory, physical, emotional, intellectual and social skills. Using animals as pedagogical tools within the early childhood context enables children access to unique opportunities to explore life processes and develop working theories that other pedagogical approaches simply do not offer." (Burr, 2016)

The Tui, was in perfect condition it just looked like it was sleeping.  All the tamariki were fascinated, as were we, with seeing this beautiful manu so close.  This started the conversation of "What do you think happened to the Tui"?

"I think his wings got wet and it made him not be able to fly and he fell down and got hit by a car" - Rada

"Tui hurt its neck, hurt arm and nose" - Kehlani

"Well I think someone accidently drived over it" - Riley

"Maybe a Myna bird was fighting the Tui and it killed it?" -Fisher

"Oh, no, it dead.  It fall out of the tree.  It fall off branch.  It will get better, ohhh" - T

"He just got away from his friend because he got on the road and he dies.  He's going to go back to his house.  He just died and died and that's not good.  He didn't want to die" - Indie

"I think he bumped into a tree because tree's make things die.  If you bump into them" - Nikau

" I know, it flewed on the car through the window and bumped its head on the road" - Beauden.

"Maybe a car may have run it over" - Te Ariki


I think he saw something and he wasn't looking where he was going so he crashed into the car" - Leina

"Well I know that Tui died.  He wanted to rest and he landed on the road instead of the tree and when he was resting on the road a car ran him over" - Hazel

"The bird donged it's head hard and that made it die.  It was going to the muesli bar shop" - Maxwell

Feelings of empathy were also shared

"I just love him.  Can we keep him? He has tickly white feathers.  He banged his head.  There is blood" - Lucas v.E

"Maz, do you love this bird? I love this bird, maybe we could have one of these birds, we don't have this bird" Te Ariki

"Studies show that around 2 years of age, children start to show genuine empathy, understanding how other people feel even when they don't feel the same way themselves. And not only do they feel another person's pain, but they actually try to soothe it." (Aberton, 2005)

Over the next few days, kaiako brought the tui out to show the tamariki that had developed an interest.  It was interesting how the conversations changed and the tamariki were starting to observe small and different things about the tui. 

"Look at it's tail. That is long tail so it can fly.  He has white on him" - Leo.

"This is it's bell? This white thing, does it go biring a ding?" - Leina

"Do you know how they flap? They go up and down" - Leina

"It has a long beak, but don't touch the end, it's sharp" - Indi

"That's because he put's it in the flowers get the nectar" - Beauden

"I see the spiky stripy feathers around it's head" - Hazel

During this time tamariki also started to draw the tui, developing and supporting their further knowledge and understandings.

Elijah's observation's while drawing - "tuft - I didn't notice, I need to do that.  He has a big head.  He has a big body and a long tail at the back. His claws look like thorns.  He has curly stripy white lines by his head and look he has these white feathers here".

Elijah's observation's while drawing - "tuft - I din't notice, I need to do that.  He has a big head.  He has a big body and a long tail at the back. His claws look like thorns.  He has curly stripy white lines by his head and look he has these white feathers here".

"Through observation, a child can reflect on what they consider aesthetically pleasing and these reflections will hopefully positively influence their own artistic journey through inspiration. In supporting their developing aesthetic appreciation and openness to new ideas, toddlers and young children benefit from this for when they begin to recognise what art is aesthetically pleasing to them, they will discuss their thoughts while also critically reflect upon their observations, using this art to inform their current and future work (MoE, 2004; Duh, 2016; Plows, 2014)." Jenson, 2018

Mā te huruhuru, ka rere to manu
Adorn the bird with feathers so it can fly.

Ngā mihi nui