Play Centre News
This Play Centre was established to provide pre-school education for a number of children in this new and fast-growing area of Wainuiomata. At the first meeting held in December 1964, the interest shown by parents was so great that in a very short time a Committee was formed, fund-raising got under way, and, thanks to the initial donation of £100 from the Maori Club of the Wellington Training College, the Centre was able to start in February 1965.
At the original meeting it was agreed that the Union Church Hall would be used; that initially two play sessions would be held each week; that the roll would have equal numbers of Maori and Pakeha children; and that the Supervisor would be Mrs Eleanor Hetet.
Interested parents then spent a very busy few weeks purchasing necessary equipment, erecting a fence around the play area, and building a sandpit. Their efforts were well rewarded because from its first day, the Centre has been a tremendous success. The play sessions have increased to three a week—on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday mornings—and these have now become a social outlet for many mothers who come along to the Centre for coffee and a chat in the Mothers' Corner, and to stay to play with the children till the session is over.
Mothers are encouraged to visit the Centre and it is quite common to find one or two prams with infants, a few strollers with toddlers, a toddler in the high chair of playpen, and Maori and Pakeha mothers cosily settled in the Mothers' Corner while the children carry on with their various activities. It is most interesting and encouraging to find that although all the mothers take their turn at ‘mother-helping’, they also find pleasure in visiting the Centre on other days. This warm friendly atmosphere has been created largely by the Supervisor who has encouraged all parents to take an interest in the Centre. Fathers take an active part, particularly on Fathers' Day, and on ‘working bees’ when the equipment is repaired.
An enthusiastic Committee has been elected, and this includes several Maori mothers—Mrs Ann Andrews, who with her husband, is the Equipment Officer, Mrs Wilma Wild, Secretary, and Mrs Cissy Paea, Social Officer. One Maori mother, Mrs Marie Cribb, has almost, completed her Supervisor-training course and several other mothers have now started a similar course, thus ensuring that the Supervisor will have a trained staff of helpers to call on.
From the opening day the roll has been maintained at the maximum of thirty children, and there is a large waiting list of both Maori and Pakeha children.
Fund-raising schemes have included raffles, stalls, rag drives, dances; and a children's film show held on a rainy Saturday made £30. Several outings have been made, and one of the most popular was a visit to the Maori Meeting House at Waiwhetu.
The official opening of Glendale Play Centre was held in September 1965. Mrs E. Jacobson of the Hutt-Wairarapa Association congratulated the Centre on becoming so firmly established in such a short time and made particular mention of the excellent participation of mothers in the play sessions—their willingness to work with the children and to listen and talk to them. She also congratulated the Centre on the very good parent education work that is being done—frequent discussions, talks by qualified speakers, and film evenings. Mrs Hetet, the supervisor, was warmly thanked for the tremendous amount of time and effort she had put in to make the first year of the Centre such a success.
The opening the Otaua Play Centre in early April by Mr A. Grey, of the Maori Edu-
The opening of the Otaua Play Centre in early April by Mr A. Grey, of the Maori Education Foundation, was the culmination of a year's work by a few families in a small community. At this settlement in East Hokianga, both children and parents are benefiting from the establishment of the Play Centre, all agreeing that the work involved has enriched their lives immeasurably.
Only a year has elapsed since 17 people attended the inaugural meeting held at the
marae. The headmaster of the local school, Mr M. Whaanga, who with his wife Moana (a former Miss New Zealand) has since left New Zealand to attend the University of Hawaii, explained the aims and objects of play centres, offering to assist in evry way.
Mrs M. Rata was elected Patroness, the President was Mr T. Waetford, who later resigned and was replaced by Mr G. Hiku, and Mrs Whaanga became Secretary. A committee of managements and four Supervisors were also elected. A light luncheon was sold, and with a donation from Mr and Mrs W. Kopu, funds were established at £6.
Some members later heard addresses by Mr Ball and Mr Grey at a Maori Education Foundation meeting at Kaikohe, and a Play Centre meeting at Whirinaki gave further ideas to the new committee.
Each home was asked to donate £5 towards the establishment of the Otaua Centre. The old school manual block, which had been purchased by the Maori Committee, was leased to the Play Centre, and ‘working bees’ soon had the building neat and tidy.
Mother-helpers attended a training course Mrs M. Tane received their certificates at a at Te Ahu Ahu, and later Mrs M. Rogers and Play Centre convention at the Otiria marae. The mid-Northland area convention at Kaikohe provided the Otaua families with further inspiration.
As a result of a visit from Mrs R. Ruhe, an all-out effort was made to equip the Otaua Centre with toys, and the fund-raising campaign continued.
When Mr and Mrs Whaanga announced their impending departure, the committee accepted their resignation with regret, as the coupled had worked very hard for the Centre. Wr Whaanga stressed that as the parents were all so keen on their new venture, it was sure to succeed. Mrs M. Tane replaced Mrs Whaanga as Secretary, and the new headmaster and his wife, Mr and Mrs L. McMillan, expressed their desire to continue the good work of the Whaangas. In February this year, the committee had almost £77 on hand, a very commendable effort by a small community.
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Guests at the opening ceremony included Mrs A. Grey, Officers from the Department of Maori Affairs, and Play Centre Officials. There was great admiration for the Play Centre building with its new lino and its business-like arrangements of toys and books. Perhaps the most outstanding feature is a ‘slide-through from one room to another, a special delight for the children. A real electric stove, although no longer functional, is the joy of the girls.
The ladies say they have learnt a great deal about motherhood from their association with the play centre and feel that they understand their children much better. The children too are developing a pleasing air of confidnce as they learn to mix and play together. The school, which together with the marae has been the centre of the community, now shares pride of place with the Play Centre.
IN ISSUE 55, it was incorrectly stated that the Maori Education Foundation could, through the Play Centre Federation, make grants available to enable Maori parents to attend Play Centre Training Courses.
Grants are available, but are made by the Department of Maori Affairs, not the Maori Education Foundation.