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child development, children in nature, children outside, sustainability, children and nature, nature children, sense of identity, children´s identity


Growing children's identity through nature.


Kaitiakitanga means guardianship – for the land, sky, and sea – and it is an idea that comes to life at our kindergartens every day.


It was a big day out in nature, and places connected to nature recently, when Kidsfirst Templeton visited Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere).


“Manaaki whenua, manaaki tangata, haere whakamua,” is a whakataukī that translates to “care for the land, care for the people, go forward.” With the help of whānau, tamariki chose, and used this to guide their trip, and stay connected to ideas around sustainability, community connection, and care for the natural world. Excursions like this are the perfect opportunity to relate learning that has been done at kindergarten to the wider world.


At the lake, tamariki skimmed stones, and took in the sights and sounds around them. Many found some of their own special taonga to take home.


Kidsfirst Templeton teacher, Chris Gibbens, says the excursion was an opportunity for the tamariki to understand where they live, the wildlife around them, and where they come from, in a more specific way. “This trip really strengthened our relationship with our place, and with one another in the wider community.”


After the trip to the beach, the explorers made their way to a local fish factory, where tamariki had the chance to learn about, and get up close and personal with some of animals – one child even having an exciting supervised splash in the eel pit.


The day was rounded off with a visit to the local Te Pā o Moki marae, where tamariki learnt, and sang a waiata about the area. They also learned about carvings, and secrets about the lake that had been passed down through generations.


Chris mentions that excursions like this allow for a huge amount of learning that can’t necessarily happen inside the classroom. “The tamariki were able to actively explore with all their senses, gather knowledge, and have lots of fun doing so.” Through learning about the area around them, tamariki are able to build a sense of identity, connected to the place they come from. This is only further developed through their exploration of nature, and their excitement to get out and learn.


She says that whānau engagement is what makes these kinds of excursions possible, “we really want to thank all the wonderful families and wider kindergarten community for their support – and of course, Gary from the fish factory.”


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