Embracing whānau & connection

Our whānau are so important to us. Kindergarten is about relationships, and every kindergarten expresses this in their own special way.

Kidsfirst Lady May were awarded a 2023 Values Award for their expression of whanaungatanga, and all of the ways they embraced te ao Māori in their big backyard, and within their day-to-day kindergarten routine.

Engaging their Māori whānau, the team at Lady May encouraged them to share their unique skills with the tamariki of their kindergarten, be it in harakeke, poi, or Māori art.

Their encouragement led to a joint project between tamariki, whānau and ngā kaiako, who worked together to create a design for a large river rock, which represented their shared journey towards further integration of te ao Māori values.

It has now become a ritual at the kindergarten that when new children start, they touch the rock, embedding their mauri and wairua in to their new place – and growing their sense of ūkaipōtanga within the kindergarten space.

This initial project led to more interest in incorporating te ao Māori values into the kindergarten, not only in practice, but also in their kindergarten environment. The team decided to commission a whare to be built in their big backyard, with the help of their community.

Whānau were involved every step of the way, alongside tamariki, kaiako, and the community, with the intention to create a treasured new part of their big backyard.

The partnership was also reflected in the design, with a skilled whānau member carving a special pou for the centrepiece of the whare. Its designs represent and support culturally located teaching at the kindergarten.

These designs included kowhaiwhai representations of the te ao Māori concepts of whakawhanaungatanga, mangopare, manaakitanga, pātiki, pūhoro, and raperape, authentically reflecting their journey so far, and their goals for the future.

They celebrated the opening of the whare with a special blessing, where the whānau member who carved the pou delivered a karakia, and explained the meanings behind the kowhaiwhai patterns, further enforcing the reciprocity of the project. The project authentically involved both whānau Māori and tamariki Māori in the construction and curation of te ao Māori in their kindergarten space in a meaningful context.

The whare during construction and at its official blessing.
The WHĀNAU 2023 Kidsfirst Values Award went to Kidsfirst Lady May.
Every year Kidsfirst Kindergartens celebrate the individuals, kindergartens and teaching teams who have showcased our values in their mahi, with their generosity, hard work and enthusiasm for what we stand for and believe in.

Arrange a time to come in and see our kindergarten for yourself, get to meet our kaiako and see the kindy for yourself.
Get in touch if you have any questions or want to know more. We’re here and always happy to give you the answers you need.