Wellsford pilot fosters learning through nature

Some of Wellsford’s youngest residents got their hands dirty at the community garden in School Road on September 25 as part of an Auckland pilot programme.

Te Kākano is a free monthly event for tamariki under five and their whānau, which involves sharing crafts, waiata, stories and seasonal experiences in nature. It uses a kaupapa Māori approach and is being tested through five pilots – Wellsford, Arataki Visitor Centre (Waitakere Ranges), Howick, Takanini and Glen Innes.

Specialist educators at the Wellsford Library, Home Interaction Programme for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY) and the Wellsford Kindergarten are helping to deliver the activities in a way that makes it fun and authentic for tamariki.

A programme spokesperson says parents and caregivers are engaged in learning with the child, meaning that that the learning can continue at home.

The five pilots came about as a result of research and community engagement about the developmental needs of tamariki Māori under five and their whānau in areas of high need throughout Auckland.

Council staff worked closely with mana whenua and mataawaka to ensure that whānau voices were central to the design of the pilot.

The pilots are proving to be popular with local whānau. Howick is attracting more than 180 children and Wellsford has been growing since its launch, with 42 children in attendance last month, double the turn out from the previous month.

Wellsford Kindergarten head teacher Donna Railey says it is important for children to connect to the wider community and the programme is a way for them to learn through nature. HIPPY coordinator Louisa Christian agreed.

“HIPPY is based at the community garden so it was great to be able to share the facility with a wider audience of families,” she said.

Auckland Botanic Gardens Julia Watson introduces children to what’s edible.

Danny Pouwels goes on a mini beast hunt with some of the children.