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Over the holiday break Kidsfirst Niu early learning centre had a brilliant new playground revamp.
“Oh wow, it’s beautiful,” was Teacher, Sharon de Mol’s reaction when she saw the playground refresh. “It has really opened up the outdoor space, to provide wonderful, new learning and sensory opportunities for our fānau (children).”
New design features include a large decked area, sturdy boardwalks, boxed seating and storage around the sandpit, with space reserved for a fun mud pit and freshly barked areas. There’s pockets of beautiful, native punga, soft grass plantings, steadfast rocks to climb over surrounded by smooth gravel stones and lush, green grass to feel underfoot.
Already thriving vegetable gardens - abundant with beans, broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, potatoes, courgettes, cucumbers and taro - now extend to run the length of the fence. Teacher Tapenisa Taufoou, loves to add freshly picked, healthy, vegetables from their garden - like crunchy cucumbers - to delicious snack platters of sliced apples and summer fruits.
With its four strong posts and thatched roof, the Tongan fale (house) is the standout feature of the new playground design for Teacher, Latu Filiai. “Each corner post on a fale represents one of our four most important ‘core’ Tongan values; loto-to (humility), faka’apa’apa (respect), mamahi’i (loyalty) and tauhi-vaha-a (maintaining good relationships), values all built on the foundation of ofa (love).”
“Another highlight for me is our carpentry hut,” says Latu. It features a striking black and white traditional Tongan kupesi (design) called manulua. “I can look up from anywhere around the playground and see this beautiful kupesi.”
Stephanie Olliver is enjoying the new challenge of her Head Teacher role at Kidsfirst Niu. She explains, “a core value of mine as a teacher, is aroha kit e tangata - having love, care, and respect for people…respect for everyone, so I really feel a strong connection to the four core Tongan values, as they fit so very well with my own.”
Stephanie says, “we love the new look and feel of our playground, it’s aesthetically beautiful and the children just love it - we are very happy with it.”
*Kidsfirst Niu early learning centre caters predominantly for Tongan families, who live in all areas of Christchurch. They place a strong emphasis on maintaining Tongan identity, language, values and culture, as part of Kidsfirst Kindergartens.
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.