|Over the holiday break Kidsfirst Niu early learning centre had a brilliant new playground revamp...|
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“Oh wow, it’s beautiful,” was Kidsfirst Niu 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 a patch of 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. He describes how, “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 feels a real affinity with the four Tongan values, as they fit so very well with her own. “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 feel a really strong connection here.”
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.”
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