Our Stories: Issue 63 

Te Kohanga Reo o Waitara is a small, marae-based early childhood education centre, catering for children up to 5 years.

A new extension to the learning space has helped the centre adapt to a growing roll. “At the centre, we encourage and actively support our whānau to develop and foster their understanding of Te Reo Māori me ona Tikanga (Māori language and practices) for themselves and their tamariki.

There is an urgent need as our roll continues to grow,” Lesley Patu, kaiako, said. Balancing funding needs with new projects is a challenge for the centre. “We are a non-profit organisation, who sit outside of the main Ministry of Education services. We were reliant on assistance and have to prioritise numerous projects and identify the pros and cons of each.”

TSB Community Trust provided a grant of $61,800 for the centre to extend their learning space. “We used our funding to create a sheltered deck to link our three akomanga (learning spaces) and this created a fourth sheltered outside learning space we use regularly throughout the year, no matter the weather.”

“With the funding, we also installed a rain-water system tank to complement our policy of sustainability and looking forward we are wanting to install solar panels.

We were able to set up our new akomanga 'Puawai' with furniture and resources to give our tamariki the best possible start.”

The space is designed to also be used for Te Reo classes for staff and the wider community. “The classes are not limited to whānau who subscribe to our service, but to Hapu, Iwi and the wider community to enhance the intergenerational transmission of our culture.”

“With our roll sitting at around 35, the extension benefits staff, whānau, and children. Our deck invites tamariki and whānau to congregate in this eye catching area filled with colour, space to run and also a place to sit," Lesley said.