Opening of Featherston Puna Kāinga – Ngā Manu Kākākura ō Te Ao Turoa
Te Rina Kaiwai, Kahungunu ki Wairarapa ECE Advisor with her daughter Kahurewa Kaiwai on opening day.
Tuesday 10 November 2015 marked a significant achievement for the South Wairarapa community with the opening of its very own Puna Kāinga – Ngā Manu Kākākura ō Te Ao Turoa, situated at Featherston Primary School.
The event was attended by Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, the principal, teachers and students from Featherston Primary School, Ministry of Education staff and, most importantly, whānau and their tamariki enrolled to embark on their educational journey with Ngā Manu Kākākura ō Te Ao Turoa.
Holding a branch of the kawakawa, PJ Devonshire, General Manager, Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, led the group with a karakia into two adjoining classrooms that make up the physical space of the Puna Kāinga. He invited all present to impart their positive energy and goodwill into the space. It was a poignant time as attendees walked in silence and were able to touch the walls, to imagine what will be, and to feel deep gratitude.
During an informal moment, PJ Devonshire recounted a time two years ago when he drove past some mothers pushing prams on the street. He jumped out of his car and asked the women if their children were enrolled in any form of early learning. They told him no, but if there was a suitable kaupapa Māori option in the area, then they would enrol their children. It was wonderful to see that those mothers were not only part of this celebration, but had already enrolled their children into Ngā Manu Kākākura ō Te Ao Turoa.
Puna Kāinga means ‘springs from home’. It is a Ministry of Education-led initiative that recognises there are clusters of 4-year-old children who may start school without the foundation skills and learning dispositions necessary to become competent and confident lifelong learners.
Puna Kāinga is a new model that recognises the children have not attended any form of early childhood education (ECE), the social needs of their families/whānau, and the urgency with which these children require education support.
The Featherston Puna Kāinga is one of many being rolled out across the country to support the Government’s target that in 2016, 98% of children starting school will have participated in quality early childhood education.
There are already 12 tamariki aged 3 and 4 enrolled in Ngā Manu Kākākura ō Te Ao Turoa. “This isn’t even including all our babies,” beamed Te Rina Kaiwai, Kahungunu ki Wairarapa ECE Advisor.
“You wait until the rest of the community find out what we have here,” said Te Rina. “This really is such an exciting day and it is only just the beginning.”