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PROFILE: Denise Sheat - Maori Cultural Advisor

 

 

SOME OF OUR STORIES.

 

 

 

Kidsfirst Kindergartens has welcomed Denise Sheat as our Maori Cultural Advisor.


Denise says that when she was approached to take on the role, she didn’t hesitate to get involved.

“I am greatly enjoying the work I’m doing with Kidsfirst. It’s very rewarding, and always a joy. The team are all for encouraging one another, which is just wonderful.”


Denise has been working with head office staff on their te reo, and helping them to develop a better understanding of their bi-cultural commitments. She has seen staff members take huge strides already, with some exploring their own Maori backgrounds more deeply as a result.

 

Born and raised in Canterbury, Denise spent a decade teaching Maori cultural studies and language at the University of Canterbury College of Education.

 

She also served as a Ngai Tahu representative on their council, along with extended periods as a resource teacher of Maori in both Canterbury and Westland. She has been a part of Taumutu Marae for over 25 years, working as a Runanga (or governing council) and as a Kaikaranga, calling on and welcoming education groups who visit the Marae.  


Denise points out that her teaching comes from personal experience. Although, today, she is a greatly appreciated teacher of Maori, she hasn’t always been a fluent speaker of the language herself.


“I always feel that you are a good teacher if you’ve struggled with the subject yourself, and that’s definitely been my experience,” she says.


She also knows kindergarten first hand, having gone to our very own Richmond Kindergarten when she was just a little girl.
That was during the war years and Denise’s father was a Captain in the New Zealand Army, stationed at Burnham Military Camp, where he trained soldiers before they left for the front during World War II.


“I was the baby of the family and I think being able to send me off to kindergarten was quite welcome for my mother.”
Denise has fond memories of waving her mother goodbye as she took off on her trike.

 

Her mother would watch as she rode for two blocks down the road before disappearing out of sight around the corner. Occasionally she’d stop a few houses down, where she’d be given a lolly by a family friend who would keep an eye out for Denise from her garden.

 

“It’s funny to think about it now but it was very much a ‘no worries’ attitude about leaving a child to bike to kindy in those days.”

 

Kindergarten days were ‘heavenly’ for Denise, and she recalls the wonderful story times and creating new and exciting things.
“It was always harder biking home because we had to carry all the things we’d made, so it became a bit of a balancing act!”

 

The connection between home and kindergarten was strong as Denise’s mother was very actively involved as a member of the committee and would often be making things to sell to help raise money. As it has always been, kindergarten proved to be a major community hub for the women involved.


“I remember the Head Teacher well – a lovely lady called Ngaire Campbell. She and my mother became great friends through their involvement with the kindergarten,” recalls Denise.
Perhaps because of her own involvement, Denise is a champion for the kindergarten experience.


“These formative years are just so important, and I think people are really seeing that now.”


Today, Denise also sees, in Kidsfirst Kindergartens, a proudly New Zealand organisation that’s progressive and well intentioned.  Embracing bi-culturalism and the responsibilities that go along with that, is part of the road ahead.

 

“Kidsfirst is on a journey of discovery and really I’m here to help them move forward – and to help them help each other, that’s what it’s all about!”

 

QUICK READ

 

At Kidsfirst Kindergartens, we build on Te Whāriki - the national early chilhood curriculum to offer our very youngest learners a wonderful experience that combines education and fun.

 

 

“Kidsfirst is on a journey of discovery and really I’m here to help them move forward – and to help them help each other - that’s what it’s all about!”

 
KIDSFIRST KINDERGARTENS ARE A NOT FOR PROFIT ASSOCIATION THAT HAS DEVELOPED AND MAINTAINED KINDERGARTENS IN CHRISTCHURCH, CANTERBURY AND ON THE WEST COAST FOR OVER 100 YEARS - AS THE PLACE LOCAL KIDS COME TO LEARN, PLAY AND HAVE FUN.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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