It was so nice to have the whānau of our tamariki, present and past, as well as whānau members from our wider community, here for Kindy Whānau Night in July, to celebrate the learning and development of the tamariki and growth of us all – either as individuals or as a collective.
We reflected on the past year and gathered our thoughts about the coming year. We also celebrated the fact that Ōpunakē Communities Kindergarten recently achieved the status of Green-Gold Enviroschool! We are the first early childhood centre to achieve this in Taranaki. This has come about by us all working together, being as sustainable as we can, intertwining Kindy initiatives with those used at home and our wider community. This would not have happened without the strong partnerships we have with our tamariki, whānau, kaiako, governance and community. It has been a group effort so we would like to say a big thank you for everyone’s support along the way and for coming to celebrate this achievement on Whānau Night in addition to Matariki.
It was awesome to have such a great turn out and see whānau and tamariki engaged in conversations with everyone, sharing what they are grateful for, reflecting on the past year and thinking about the year ahead. The tamariki had been sitting around the fire each day at Kindy during our week leading up to Whānau Night and shared with each other what they were grateful for (See banner image). The word “grateful” is a word which we have been exploring here at Kindy as we highlight what things we are thankful for and appreciate. The kaiako recorded each of these, for tamaiti, on whetū/stars which were then decorated using the ashes from the fire. Whānau enjoyed seeing what their child had shared with us and had a chance to create their own star and hang it on the tree. It was a warming experience to read all these things!
Whānau had a chance to sit around the fire too on the sheltered deck as it was super windy as Tāwhirimātea had come to the party!
We planted a lot of trees, shrubs and herbs at Kindy in our Matariki week – figs, a lemonade tree, celery, parsley, cranberry, rewarewa and Cuphea ignea firecracker plant. We will be learning alongside St Joseph’s School with Enviroschools Facilitator, Esther, later in the term on a new gardening project which is super exciting too – watch this space!
We are currently using reusable nappies here at Kindy in the Moana Room and might extend this to the Maunga Room to further reduce waste in line with our Enviroschools kaupapa. We have many new initiatives and ideas for the future which to support sustainability. We think that we could replace paper towels (currently going to landfill) for drying hands with reusable cloth ones. We have been mindful of waste and have been finding more uses for that which could have ended up in the bin. Farah and tamariki made an āniwaniwa/rainbow for our Enviroschools display using paper towels which would have otherwise been disposed of.
The tamariki, whānau and kaiako all had an opportunity to say how they have been impacted by our Enviroschools journey through this process of reflection. It was apparent that we all benefit from, and contribute to, our Enviroschools curriculum in many different ways, and are ready for our next steps towards a healthy, peaceful and sustainable Ōpunakē Kindy community!
December 2023 update:
Taranaki Regional Council: Environmental Action in Education Award 2023
Ōpunake Community Kindergarten – For empowering tamariki to take action to protect and restore the environment.
Tamariki have helped built a food forest, they grow their own food, help reduce waste and clean-up the Ōpunake beach.
Centre manager Danni Poulsen-Cook says: “Focusing on the environment is really important for us at kindy. A big part of our vision is empathy and aroha for Papatūānuku (Earth mother), just fostering that with our tamariki. They come to kindy with the seeds of that knowledge and then we just go from there and build on it.”
Congratulations for being recognised for your on-going exploration, learning and action towards a sustainable community!