A community-driven legacy.
After the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, Kidsfirst had to do what many others in Christchurch did – reprioritise what was important to them. That meant that a lot of ideas had to be brought back to the drawing board, to assess their viability.
As decisions were made about the post-quake future of many businesses in Canterbury and on the West Coast, the Board and Management Team decided to take the opportunity presented to them in the town of Franz Josef.
The facility was first proposed by South Westland Childcare Incorporated to the District Council as a community-based facility that would be the first dedicated early childhood centre in the area. Kidsfirst Glacier Country was given the go-ahead in 2013 by Kidsfirst, who underwrote the costs of the $1.2m centre, and the community has never looked back.
The centre was not without its own setbacks and funding issues, including licensing and compliance issues that needed to be resolved before it could operate.
Kidsfirst Glacier Country was built in Christchurch, delivered over to the West Coast in nine sections and put together on site in mid-2015.
The Early Learning Centre was officially opened on the 11th of July, 2015. The building was blessed by the Reverend Richard Wallace with support from the whānau of Te Runanga o Makaawhio, and declared officially open by West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Connor.
The unique nature of this Kidsfirst Early Learning Centre is its ability to cater for the differing needs of the Franz Josef community, as an area with a large proportion of seasonal workers and tourists.
From planning through to premises, the project is one of partnership. Kidsfirst Glacier Country is on the same site as Franz Josef Primary School. This type of partnership, which benefits children immensely, was also a defining aspect of the other Early Learning Centre that opened in 2015, Kidsfirst Diamond Harbour.
Our website uses material from the Canterbury Westland Kindergarten Association's own archives, Kindergarten Chronicles and other CWFKA publications, and those sourced from the kindys themselves. Unless otherwise noted, we believe all photographs are those of the kindergarten association and sincerely apologise if we have used any images inadvertently, without appropriate credits or permissions. If so, please advise us so we can rectify the situation.
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.