Farmer Burr has made a remarkable contribution to the Te Puna Kindergarten for the last 10 years. With the experiences, story-telling and wisdom that he imparts to our tamariki, we have come to view him as a kaitiaki for our children.
In 2019 we profiled this relationship in a short story and video here. Now the kindergarten has acknowledged this generous gentleman with a carving.
Profiling Gordon Burr
Over the years Farmer Gordon Burr has opened up his property for us to climb trees, rear and shear lambs and sheep, taste fruit, grow potatoes and kumara, ride on his trailer, allow our animals to have a resting place when they have died, supported our events, lent trestle tables, gifted us resources from his barn to create a new playground and allowed us to work from a marquee in his paddock when the old Kindergarten was being renovated.
“Farmer Burr, you are our biggest champion in helping children to connect with Papatūānuku. This is particularly important in these times where children’s lives can become very busy, with many distractions. Farmer Burr you have helped us to connect to, and support the local community, showing us what it means to be a community member. Indeed, you are an all-round good sort and we thank you.” – Te Puna Community Kindergarten team.
About the carving
The carving was created by Simon Clement. It is created from Paulownia timber which was grown and carved in Tauranga. Simon tells us that the Paulawnia tree comes from China and in folklore, when a Paulownia is planted near a house, a phoenix would come and bring good luck. Simon’s carving is in the form of the manaia. A manaia is usually depicted as having the head of bird and the tail of a fish and the body of a man. Manaia are classed guardians and are a “go between” the worlds of the mortal and immortal.
Simon has depicted the ika (fish) and tuna (eel) to depict Farmer Burr as a hunter and gatherer. The koru pattern represents Farmer Burr’s growing and production of kai for all to consume, thus nourishing our puku. The hook symbolises friendships and attracts good blessings to all who come into its presence. The carving of the hand with three fingers symbolises birth, life and death being in balance.
We have placed the carving at the apex of our building, overlooking Te Puna Village where Gordon has made his home for the last 80 years after riding his pony over from Ngongatahā when he was 12 years old. He will be able to look down from his house to see it and know we appreciate the way he has opened his heart and home to the Kindergarten community.
“[He is an] amazing man that we can all learn something from his caring, loving and giving. He is wonderful and is a memory that our daughter talks about still now even though it has been 7 years since she has been at the amazing learning space at Te Puna kindy.” – a community member
“Love this amazing man and all he has done for this kindergarten. He is an absolute treasure. Really shows just what community connection is all about and how positive it can be for all of us. Whenever I see him in the community I still get a cuddle, and my girls have been gone from kindy for 5 years now. God bless you Farmer Burr.” – a community member
Banner Photo: Tamariki prepare potatoes for cooking after harvesting from Farmer Burr’s place.