Last month, the Ōtaki Playcentre whanau held a pōwhiri to welcome friends from Waikanae Playcentre. They arrived at 9.30am loaded with delicious things to share for morning tea. Food was set down, coats and bags were hung up and then Kim Tahiwi began the kaikaranga on behalf of the tangata whenua. Mere Drake from Waikanae responded as Kim led Waikanae through the centre and onto the back deck, which had been set up for the whaikōrero.
Once everyone was seated, Kim spoke and was joined by her son Lance who recited his mihimihi. Ōtaki then sang a beautiful rendition of “Ma is White” and then Mere spoke on behalf of Waikanae before they sang too. Kim spoke again, Otaki did the final waiata and finally the two centres lined up to hongi.
After that it was time for hākari so the scones, cakes, sandwiches, muffins, sausage rolls and other delicious kai was brought out. Kim gave a short karakia kai and the formalities were over. Children and adults sat down to eat, drink, chat and get to know each other. In true Playcentre style everyone was itching to play so as soon as everyone had finished, the swings came out, sandpit cover came off and the art projects were started.
Co-organiser Madeline West said “As part of Playcentre’s commitment to biculturalism, it is important for our tamariki to be familiar with pōwhiri protocol. Welcoming Waikanae seemed like a great way to support this goal and was also a fantastic opportunity to connect with Playcentre whanau. We will continue strengthening this connection with a visit to Waikanae next term and hopefully, a wider Kāpiti Coast Playcentre visit to Raukawa Marae.”
At over sixty years old, Ōtaki Playcentre is one of the oldest of all Playcentres and has a long and proud history in the area. “We have struggled a little in the last couple of years with low numbers, but we make up for that in terms of family involvement and enthusiasm” said President Anita Hurcomb. “Some of our tamariki are second-generation Playcentre kids so the principles of learning through play are well understood here. We are also lucky that many of our members are highly-qualified in areas that we all benefit from: early childhood education; tikanga Māori and Te Reo; working with people with special needs. I think this bodes well for the future of our centre.”
People in Ōtaki might have noticed signs and brochures up around town, or perhaps a card in their mailbox over the summer. “We’re trying to attract new people to join Playcentre in 2015” said Alice Cameron, a Playcentre parent. “There seems to be a bit of confusion about what Playcentre is. Playcentre is different, not daycare or playgroup. Parents can pop in and see us any time to see how it all works.”
Ōtaki Playcentre is at 169 Mill Road and
runs sessions every Tuesday and Thursday during term times from 9.30am till 12.
People are welcome to visit any time and the first three visits are free.
Term one starts on Tuesday January 27th.