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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Thursday, 21 March 2019

Mairtown Rat Trappers - Kaitiaki of Parihaka

Over the past two terms we have become the kaitiaki (guardians) of two very important rat traps. These were gifted to us by Dai Morgan, through the Parihaka Community Landcare and we have placed them in different parts of Parihaka, which is where we run our Nature Programme. The children of Mairtown carefully decorated the traps before we took them into the bush so they were easily identifiable as the ones that we were looking after.

On the Parihaka Community Landcare Facebook page they state that, “We are a community volunteer group helping to protect native species in Parihaka by reducing pest populations.”

We feel very privileged that the children of Mairtown Kindergarten who attend our Nature Programme get to see first hand the efforts of trapping rats.

From the very beginning of this process the children knew and expressed a lot of knowledge of why we needed to kill rats in our local Ngahere.

“You know rats are not good, they are bad. They kill baby birds.” (Ezra)

“Yeah they also eat the eggs and when the rats kill the birds and eat the eggs that means that we might not have more birds in our places.” (Juno)

The conversations around rats and the plot to trap them has flowed into the kindergarten space. This has created opportunities for our Nature Programme children to share their understanding on this subject of conservation with other children.

Each week when we enter the bush one of the first things that we do is check the traps. If they have not gone off, we re-bait and if they have caught a rat, well that is where the real excitement begins. What I particularly like about this rat trapping initiative is how the children have taken such great ownership of the task. They clearly have a deep sense of responsibility as they rush to where the trap was last baited and eagerly await to see if there is a dead rat inside.

Now, as to date, we have only caught two rats and these were very exciting moments. On the first occasion it had been a hot summery week leading up to its discovery and to say that the rat was smelly was an understatement. The children watched on as poor Amy had the task of getting the rat out. After much discussion it was decided that the best way to dispose of the rat body was to bury it. The children, with support, chose a place that would not disturb the roots of the trees and where they could dig a fairly deep hole to place the rat in.

“This is really going to make me have a spew!”

“The rat was alive, now it is dead. So we buried it.” (Felix)

Our kindergarten is on the Enviroschools journey and this is just one of the many ways that we incorporate its kaupapa into our programme. Every pest caught is of benefit to our native species and we love that the children at Mairtown Kindergarten can have such a rich and meaningful learning experiences in regards to this. 

 One part of the Enviroschools kaupapa is 'Identifying and Strengthening Community Partnerships/ Mahi Ngātahi’

and they state that, "Your centre (or kindergarten) is part of an eco-system, and creating a sustainable centre involves developing projects and practices that support the whole living system around you. To work in this holistic way, it is necessary to bring together a range of different insights and skills. Genuine partnerships involve identifying shared goals and appreciating particular skills, resources and expertise that different groups and people can offer. Link up with others in your area that are working towards a more sustainable environment in areas such as health, conservation, cultural or community development."

Our children are learning so much about the importance of pest management, as well as contributing to our local community in a very relevant and meaningful way. We love that this is now a part of our Nature Programme’s rituals every week and can’t wait to catch more pests in Parihaka.

Thank you to Dai Morgan, Parihaka Community Landcare and the Northland Regional Council for having such a great initiative in place. If you would like to know more about how you can be involved in programmes like this check out their Facebook page (Click Here).

Nga mihi,


Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Wheel-a-thon fun 2019

On Thursday the 28thFebruary, after lots of anticipation, we held our annual Wheel-a-thon fundraiser at the Kensington park courts.  After last years rain, this year we were delighted to see the sun was out and the sky was a beautiful blue.

As everyone arrived, it was wonderful to see so many of the bikes or scooters had been decorated thoughtfully with balloons, tinsel, streamers, windmills, ribbons, plants and flowers.  Many of our children didn’t stop there though, also choosing to decorate themselves, with some wearing fantastic dress ups.

At Mairtown Kindergarten we love to bring our community together. Community events like the Wheel-a-thon provide an excellent opportunity for whānau and families to engage with each other, to meet new friends and to socialise outside of kindergarten.

“People coming together as a community can make things happen”  Jacob Rees-Mogg

When I asked the children what they enjoyed most about the Wheel-a-thon the following day at kindergarten, there were two popular responses ‘Eating my ice block’ and ‘seeing my friends’.  The ice block certainly was a refreshing way to cool down after completing many laps of the courts in the hot sunshine.  As well as receiving an ice block, each child received a badge acknowledging their participation, one child commented ‘I love this badge, I’ll keep it forever’.

"Family and friends are hidden treasures, seek them and enjoy their riches." Wanda Hope Carter

We would like to say a huge thank you to all the whānau who helped make this event such a success through offering support and help such as selling pizzas, gaining sponsorship, decorating all those wheels, and making the time to come and have fun at the event.

Below is a short slideshow movie which the children have been watching at whānau time, with so much joy on their faces as they recognise themselves and their friends riding their bikes and scooters - enjoy!  

This year all monies fundraised will go towards funding our Nature Programme co-ordinator for 2019.

Ngā mihi,

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Playground Experts

This week we were made aware of a survey being carried out by Whangārei District Council for consultation on two local playgrounds. One very popular one which is due to be upgraded and one new playground which is planned to be created – both in central Whangārei.

We were excited to be able to present this opportunity to the kindergarten children to give their thoughts and feedback on what makes a great playground. After all, as we reminded the children, they are the playground experts!!

The current Town Basin playground which is due for an upgrade

As we came together at whānau time we were able to discuss this as a group and with the help of some visual prompting for instance photos of the existing playgrounds on our projector, there was lots of conversation and ideas being shared within the group. We gave the children time to think, reflect and mull over their ideas before talking further with them in small groups.

Below are their ideas collected over two days, with children often approaching us animatedly explaining extra things that they had thought of after having had time to process the question.

Sullivan: I like swinging on the swings. I would like a flying fox that goes wheeeeeeeeee!!!

Senushi: I would like monkey bars like at my sisters school and some swingy things that go like twirly whirly whirly until you get dizzy and swing to dizzy heights.

Roimata: What about a big long river with water trickling down and lots of room to play.

Riley: I’d like a trampoline which goes right down to the bottom and bounces right up to the sky.

Lilly: Yeah! I would like a trampoline! And something to build with.

Teddie: Yes a trampoline to the moon and a playground where you have to wear your togs. I love bouncing.

Gabrielle: I would like a swimming playground.

Caleb: A slide with corners, a giant big slide!

Gabrielle: And I would like sticks and blocks to build with and a place to have a fire at the playground to cook marshmallows.

Juno: I would like a pool park where you have to go in the pool, and you can slide down a slide into the pool.

Kelsey: I would like monkey bars.

Juno: Yeah but wooden monkey bars are better than metal monkey bars because the metal ones give me blisters.

Kelsey: Also a place to play shops.

Teddie: I would like a bat and ball to play with at the playground.

Mana: I like climbing. Trees are my favourite thing to climb and I like climbing logs.

Donna: What about a sensory garden, with smelly herbs and edible plants and small places to sit?

Nikos: I like the round thing what goes up down up down. Yeah the merry go round.

Charlie: Charlie loves to swing!

Riley: What about an octopus? A giant octopus that squirts water out.

Anna: I would like a long pink curvy tunnel slide.

Joshua: I love rope swings with big rope. Swing rope. I’ve been on one before.

Liam: A shallow pool to run through and splash, and a slide that goes into the water. A curvy slide that goes fast.

Sharlee-Bea: I like to go inside things and hide.

Carter: I like jumping on really giant big rocks.

The ideas that the children contributed were so varied and amazing! I have had fun imagining a HUGE playground environment incorporating so many interesting ideas!!

Anecdotally children are often overlooked when it comes to seeking their perspectives as “... adults consider that they have the right to make decisions on behalf of young children, or at best may view young children as citizens in the making” (Ritchie & Lambert, 2018) but this is certainly not the case.

I would like to acknowledge Whangārei District Council for making this opportunity available for the children to contribute their thoughts and ideas to this project, and for being a leader in the community in this respect. Having organisations who take the time to listen to the voices of our younger members serves to build environments in which children are recognised as active citizens, contributing both to decisions which affect their lives, as well as to their communities and wider society.

Within the New Zealand Early Childhood Curriculum Te Whāriki, the principle of whakamana, or empowerment requires that “every child will experience an empowering curriculum that recognises and enhances their mana and supports them to enhance the mana of others” (Ministry of Education, 2017, p.18). Acknowledging our children in this way is certainly affirming to the way they view themselves as part of the wider community and builds their confidence and their belief in their own ability to make a difference. 

“Strengthening skills, confidence and capacity for democratic participation during childhood will also bring lifelong benefits” – UNICEF

We are very much looking forward to watching these community projects progress and playing in the finished environments. One thing is certain – the playground designers won’t be short of creative ideas to weave into their work!


** Please note, if you live in the Whangārei area and have ideas to contribute, or would like to facilitate the contribution of your own children’s ideas, the link below will take you to the Whangārei District Council Survey which is open until March 10th