We couldn’t be more excited for the children and teachers at Kidsfirst Kendal Ave who are so happy to be reopened - back on their kindergarten’s original site! 







The kindergarten is so proud to reopen after all of the difficulties following the February 2011 earthquake.


Over these past years, although it had been a ‘temporary’ site, the children, teachers, and parent/whānau community of Kidsfirst Kendal Ave came to strongly identify with their unique learning environment as ‘their place.’

Kindergarten life had flourished there as, behind the scenes, the Kidsfirst Strategic Leadership team worked tirelessly within the Ministry-determined timelines to negotiate their building repairs. Throughout their time on the school site Kidsfirst Kendal Ave had amazing support from its whānau and not only managed to maintain enrolment numbers but in fact saw an increase in their roll.



While this was happening the teachers (including many energetic and helpful relievers, especially Dawn Hansen and Support Person Keri Cliften), parents, children and the community had worked hard to enrich and add value to their challenging learning spaces. Greatly appreciated enhancements like the construction of a new community-built sand pit, new doors installed between the classrooms to support supervision and accessibility and a perimeter fence that was extended to provide more space for bikes, scooters and activities.


The time hadn’t been without its difficulties though. The sad closure of Kendal Ave school brought new challenges for the kindergarten including the loss of the playground area for the children and needing to install a new heating system. As well as a visit by ERO and also the Ministry (education and health) to approve their ongoing temporary license status to think about! Throughout it all everyone at Kidsfirst Kendal Ave have appreciated the constant presence and support of caretaker Graham who helped look after ‘their place’ so well.



More recently there had been much excitement and curiosity around the rustle and bustle of all the repair work noise coming from next door, just ‘beyond the horizon.’ Many eager eyes watched as the work took shape to repair the original kindergarten building. The teachers, children and whānau began to prepare for the much anticipated transition and return back to their kindergarten. They were excited about an upcoming ‘walk through’ to see the totally refurbished, bright and warm space.

So what a momentous day it was to be able to officially reopen the original building - now spick and span and as good as new after structural strengthening and extensive refurbishment. In recognition of the significance of this wonderful occasion the Kidsfirst whānau gathered at the gate to be led by Kidsfirst Māori Education Advisor Denise Sheat through a Māori blessing. With Jan Forsyth, previous Kidsfirst Board President and Kendal Ave parent, cutting the cake. 



To celebrate the strong connection the kindergarten has with its parent community and whānau, the ribbon was cut by the Murchison family, whose ties with the kindy stretch back two generations. Mother Pippa and her brother attended Kendal Ave. Her son Joel (aged 12) also went to the kindergarten, and her younger son Preston (aged 4) currently attends the kindy.

As Pippa says, “It’s always been just around the road – I actually remember we used to walk here as children! It’s nice to see the doors open again.”

The improved building has been altered to include a whānau room and the teachers now have an improved workspace with built-in storage. The continued support of the community and the wider Kidsfirst organisation has been both inspiring and humbling. 



ESM (Education Service Manager) for Kidsfirst Kendal Ave Kathryn O’Connell-Sutherland says, “Although this experience has been challenging in new and unexpected ways it has also been enriching. As they say, out of adversity comes great things - resilience, creativity and innovation.”

Kathryn wishes to acknowledge the dedication, resilience, commitment and hard work of all the many people who have helped make Kidsfirst Kendal Ave such a special place for learning during this time - in so many ways. To you all a huge “thank you.” 



Bernie Atger led the team in the initial move and early years at Kendal School. Bernie and Sarah Harsent left in 2014 and with relieving head teacher Sue Downey-Clarke on sick leave, the team Pip Reilly and Julia Dennis-Harris, stepped up and supported each other under Ngam Brown’s calm and efficient leadership. Jackie Copper then joined as relieving Head Teacher to support the team in their preparation and much awaited transition back to their kindergarten.


Kidsfirst Kendal Ave also very much appreciated and welcomed the help and vibrancy of Charlotte Beasley from neighbouring Kidsfirst Kindergartens Isleworth Road. Charlotte enjoyed her five weeks teaching in this very different and compromised environment and during this time shared resources and physical equipment from Kidsfirst Isleworth Road. Thank you to Charlotte and her team. What wonderful, inspiring examples of people helping people and tatau tatau/collective responsibility.



We’re so excited and happy for everyone at Kidsfirst Kendal Ave kindergarten - now back where you belong. Welcome home.




First opened in 1961, the original kindy building had sat next door to Kendal Ave Primary school for fifty years until the Canterbury Earthquakes struck.


A check of the kindergarten building had found that it did not meet the required building code and that they would have to be temporarily moved to a different spot.


With the help of the Ministry of Education, the kindergarten relocated to the Kendal Ave Primary School site. But as Kidsfirst Board Member Viv Ruth says, the ‘temporary’ solution turned out to be a bit longer than anticipated...


“For many of us in Canterbury, the word ‘temporary’ might have meant a few weeks or even a few months prior to 2011 but like so many things, we’ve had to re-evaluate the meaning of some of these terms. It’s just so wonderful to be here some three years later, gathering to welcome our tamariki and whānau back into the original building, which is now stronger than ever.”








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