Whakamārama Kindergarten goes Solar!

| By Whakamarama Kindergarten

As an Enviroschools Kindergarten, Whakamārama Kindergarten in Bay of Plenty is committed to a long-term sustainability journey and has a shared vision for sustainable energy use. They are now the 11th kindergarten in the Inspired Kindergartens family to have solar panels installed!

Thanks to the generous donations from local sponsors Anton Terblanche (Bayleys), Grayson Dales Electrical, Mind Your Movement Pilates Ōmokoroa, as well as Inspired Kindergartens, the dream for a sustainable solar kindergarten was realised. Work commenced over the summer break, installing the solar panels and training the team on the new system.

The change to solar power is an exciting one for the teaching team (Mike, Emily and Johanna).

“It is a great achievement to have the solar panels installed at our Kindergarten as part of our Enviroschools journey and awesome to be more sustainable. Looking ahead for tamariki, solar energy will be part of their lives and the world they live in, so it is a great opportunity to introduce them to the idea,” say the teaching team, Emily, Mike and Johanna.

Laying out and lining up the solar panels in play.

Horijames uses the poster to aid discussion about solar panels.








Darcy concentrates on his drawing of solar panels (see banner image).

The children have been learning about solar power, inspiring some beautiful learning conversations at kindergarten and at home. Teachers Mike, Emily and Johanna have overheard comments from the children such as, “When it’s night time, the solar panels don’t work. No electricity in the night time.” and “They gotta get lots of light, and then they will work,” and “When it’s morning, and the sun is big, then they make lots of power.” Solar panels are also making their way into children’s constructions, drawings and pretend play.

“[Tamariki] were very curious to learn how the solar panels work and how they can produce lots, a little, or no electricity, depending on the weather and time of day. There were some great discussions and a number of children ended up talking to their parents about solar panels at home from what we have heard.” – Head Teacher, Johanna

Johanna encourages kindergartens considering solar to give it a go and found there were a lot of local businesses out there happy to support a sustainable kindergarten project.

Kaiako saw children put solar panels on the roof of their big outdoor block “homes”, as well as on their magnet shapes and mobilo constructions inside. Some of our older children did some amazing drawings of solar panels, sharing what they know.  There is a poster about solar panels displayed that tamariki frequently like to discuss during play time.

Robbi shows his jet he constructed, with solar panels.

One kindergarten dad had relayed that while reading a story to his son about a power cut, as they were reading, the boy looked up at his dad and said, “They could use solar panels instead!”

“We were reading a story with a candle in it when Luke asked, ‘why don’t they turn on the light?’ I said, ‘Because they didn’t have electricity back then’, to which Luke replied, ‘Why don’t they have solar panels, because they make electricity.’ ” – 3-year-old Luke’s dad


A lot of children have shared their observations about spotting solar panels in their neighbourhood and even at their grandparents’ place: “My koro has got a panel.”

Robbie’s (4) mum shared, “Robbie is a solar expert now. He points out solar panels whenever we see them out and about!”

On the 4th March all children, families and teachers dressed in yellow and orange to represent the sun to celebrate the new addition to their building, with a warm thank you to their generous sponsors.

Celebrating the solar panel installation!

Eliano, expresses his understanding of solar energy through art.










Darcy’s drawing with annotations that capture his thoughts. (banner image to show full story!)