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No. 42 (March 1963)
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Education
Play Centre in Mangakino

One of the most pleasant features about a voluntary group working in a community is the natural way the people in the group mix together. Recently at Mangakino Play Centre on a Saturday we had a full morning session of children at play under the supervision of a Pakeha mother assisted by a Maori mother. Present also were Maori and Pakeha fathers, 16 of them. These with a few more mothers and around 20 children, Maori and Pakeha, enjoyed the morning play session.

For some fathers this was their first sight of a Play Centre and the first sight of their children at play in a centre. For some fathers it was the first time in a long while that they had taken time off from the garden, the car, the races and the local to spend it with their young sons and daughters.

How did the children react? Superbly. They showed what the equipment was for by using it all morning. No upsets, no squabbles, just 20 busy children at work playing with the equipment their fathers and mothers had helped to make.

Mess Gained Meaning

At first the array of equipment looked pretty messy to a few fathers with tidy minds and back yards. Dough, water, finger paint, paint can make a mess. So can sand and clay. Blocks and jig saws make their own kind of mess. But with a few mothers who understand children and the purpose of the equipment, with the alert eye of a trained supervisor, and the genuine feeling of friendliness from the parents, along with a dash of pretty sound understanding from the fathers—the mess seemed somehow to gain some meaning. The paint went on paper—as did the finger paint. The sand stayed in the pit as it got shaped into tunnels and roads. The dough found its way

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to the ‘oven’, and the blocks got used first one way then another and replaced after use.

The idea of a Saturday meeting of pre school children and parents to give fathers and mothers a fuller look at their children and the equipment is a practice we can recommend to all parents.

Here in Mangakino, the Play Centre has been running for nearly 12 years but has changed a little since the closing of the hydro dam works. From a large centre catering five mornings a week for 100 or more children, it now is about the same size as most Play Centres, a comfortable group of families housed in a local hall.

Discussions Afterwards

The morning session was one of three held during the day and was followed in the afternoon by a discussion among parents on the kinds of equipment to add to the already good supply; and how by setting out the room and having more parents carry out a programme of study of children at play, the children could benefit even more.

In the evening a social-discussion raised the burning questions of the best way to live and work in the family for the welfare of all—and enjoy it.

Sponsored by the Regional Council of Adult Education, Auckland University, organised by the Mangakino Play Centre, this day programme proved good fun and experience for us all.

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The twenty candidates who gained highest marks in the English section of the Government Maori Scholarship examinations have been awarded £10 merit awards by the Maori Education Foundation. The award winners are—

Hiraina Lambert, Papanui Junction School, Taihape; Audrey Murray, Punaruku Maori District High School, Northland; Nihipora Kereama. Tawera Maori School, Whakatane; Rebecca Heperi, Rahiri Maori School, Northland; Waima Nathan, Pouto School, Dargaville; Tu Williams, Whangaparaoa Maori School, East Coast; Colin Leaf, Waimamaku Maori School, Northland; Robert Shadrock, Makomako School, Waikato; Morgan Solomon, Waikatea School, Wairoa; Eruera Koopu, Toa Toa School, Bay of Plenty; Brenda Mauriohooho, Arohena School, Te Awamutu; Judith Witere, Opoutere Maori School, Waihi; Moera Kingi, Poroti School, Whangarei; Valerie Thompson, Punaruku Maori District High School, Northland; Richard Ngata, Ormond School, Poverty Bay; Roderick Wharepapa, Opoutere Maori School, Waihi; Leonard Walker, East Cape School, East Coast; Henrietta Ngata, Mangatuna Maori School, East Coast; Ngaronoa Hadfield, Waimamaku Maori School, Northland; Emma Henare, Whakaangiangi Maori School, East Coast.

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Children and parents at the thriving Play Centre at Mangakino.