PLAY CENTRE AT MANAIA
The writer of this account, Mrs Ruth Tangaere, is the acting supervisor at the Manaia play centre.
Manaia is an all-Maori settlement of 22 houses, 8 miles from Coromandel on the Thames Coast.
My husband and I were appointed to the school in February 1963. After a term there we decided that we would try to start a session for the pre-school children, to see if this would accelerate their progress through the infant department.
Making a Start
On June 12th the mothers came to school to discuss this suggestion. We all agreed to organise a Saturday morning session, starting on the next Saturday. I agreed to supervise these sessions, which would be held in the infant room at the school, and with the outdoor equipment, from 9.30 until 12 noon, on each Saturday during the school term. The five-year-olds also attended the sessions. At first we just used the infant room equipment.
On July 23rd Mr Alex Grey, the pre-school officer of the Maori Education Foundation, visited the school with Mrs Grey to speak to the parents about forming a play centre. The group was in favour of this, and a few days later a play centre committee was elected.
Mrs Bonita Renata was elected president, and Mr Hector Connor became the secretary. Several money-raising efforts soon gave us the basic equipment necessary to apply for affiliation to the Auckland Nursery Play Centres Association, and in September Mr and Mrs Alex Grey came to officially open the Centre. There were now 14 pre-school children, and also 10 children in their first school year, attending the sessions.
Success with Training Course
Mr Grey started some of the mothers on their Supervisor's training course, and in November Mrs Bonita Renata, Mrs Tui Collier and Mrs Hector Connor were all successful in obtaining their Mother Helpers' Certificates. This is the first stage of a Supervisor's Certificate.
At the end of last year we received word that we had been affiliated, and we subsequently received the £50 government grant.
The three mothers who obtained Helpers' Certificates are now working towards their Assistant Supervisors' Certificates. When they have qualified they will take over the running of the play centre. We have hopes of later on obtaining a separate building for the play centre. This will be put in the school grounds if possible, and will enable us to operate during the school week on more than one afternoon if we have the funds. The roll at present at the Centre is 13 per-school children and 4 five-year-olds.
The Maori Education Foundation has decided to assist Maori Play Centre groups which are having trouble in finding accommodation.
Some groups have had the chance to buy old school or other buildings, and to transfer them to a suitable site. In such cases the foundation will help to pay removal costs of suitable buildings with a pound for pound subsidy, up to a maximum of £100.