What begins as an inspired idea at a Kidsfirst kindergarten can often evolve into a wonderful project that really brings the local community together...
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Like the community team effort that has gone into Kidsfirst McKenzie's fence murals.
To the children’s delight local firefighters from Red Watch at Sockburn kicked off the project with an exciting visit in their truck to water blast clean the fence. Local police sergeant, Steve - or ‘Steve the Sergeant’ as the kids call him – got involved by arranging paintbrushes to borrow through his council contacts with the community group ‘graffiti-busters’.
Next, a group of International students from the University of Canterbury, here to study ‘Working in a Community,’ volunteered their time to paint the fence. A group of Riccarton High School students studying 'Community Support' did a second coat.
The murals are now in the design phase. A former kindy mum is an art teacher at Riccarton High School and the kindergarten approached her about the possibility of creating the three murals. An extra-curricular art-club had recently started at the school and it was thought that designing the murals could be a great project for them.
In the mean time the teachers and children have been talking about what pictures they might like to see on their murals. They’ve said that they’d like them to represent the cultural diversity of their kindergarten, their connection to the local community and the importance of bi-culturalism.
Kidsfirst McKenzie pride themselves on the wide range of people involved with the kindergarten.
“It’s a melting pot of families who come together respectfully to share their views and learn from each other everyday. We are thinking perhaps the first mural could be inspired by that - depicting all of the wonderful people and interesting cultural diversity within our community,” says Head Teacher Jane Hynes.
The kindergarten also feels a real connection to their local area – in particular Riccarton Bush. The Māori word for this beautiful pocket of native reserve is *Pūtaringamotu. It is a place dominated by tall Kahikatea trees, with pathways and boardwalks to amble along through the trees and with a predator-proof perimeter fence for the protection of native birds. Riccarton Bush is within walking distance of Kidsfirst McKenzie and the children often visit. They love this special space and have created a wilderness area in the kindergarten garden as both a nod to the reserve and as a gentle way to teach the children about sustainability.
“Perhaps a second mural could be inspired by this and depict the kindergartens special connection to this wonderful native reserve,” says Jane.
An idea for the third mural is to move beyond our local geographical area and depict a map of New Zealand with a larger than life ‘South Island’ to make room to include key features of the land. The inspiration here was from a special edition of a book ‘Te Waka Hurukurumanu,’ written by the Ngai Tahu Development Trust and given to the kindergarten by Huhana Carter, one of Kidsfirst’s Māori Advisors. It tells the wonderful story of Grandparents who take a trip around the South Island, along the way discovering many special things and significant places - like Pounamu (Greenstone) on the West Coast and Mutton Birds in the deep South.
“This was a truly inspirational story that the children loved and so we envisage that a mural of the South Island would be a wonderful way of acknowledging the special features of our land and in particular the places that are of Māori importance,” says Jane.
Once completed these three murals will be wonderful pieces of artwork for the children to look at – inspired by the ideas of ‘this is who we are’ and ‘this is where we live.’ The community effort so far and the pulling together of resources to make it happen at Kidsfirst McKenzie has been truly inspirational. Next will be the painting phase so watch our space….
Kidsfirst McKenzie had been keen to improve the look of their entranceway and could see that their fence really needed a fresh coat of paint. So they came up with the idea of painting murals to hang along the fence, depicting what was special about their kindergarten.
* The Māori word for Riccarton Bush - Pūtaringamotu - translates to either 'the place of an echo' or 'the severed ear' - the latter being a metaphoric expression referring to ‘bush isolated from the rest’.
The area was one of only two remnants of the original forest that covered the Canterbury plains, escaping the huge fires that swept across the province during the Maori moa hunter period. The other remnant, at Papanui, was cut down in the 1850’s. (Wikipedia).
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.