Whenuakite Country Kids is surrounded by idyllic scenes. A deep green protective hedge is one side, a primary school is directly across the road, farmland is over the back fence and farm animals (calves, chickens and horses sometimes) graze and scurry over the side fence. Thirty-eight children at any one time enjoy this beautiful slice of green and relaxed paradise. On Saturday, 5 November, the community celebrated 20 years of Whenuakite Country Kids being a licensed ECE centre.
Jasmine Lockhart, the Centre manager, spoke to the happy gathering of mixed ages and some adults came who had first attended the centre as wee children. Jazz spoke of the generosity of Bill and Lorna Black, who had enabled a parcel of their land to be separated out fro their farm for the Centre to become a reality and sold it well under the market price to so that the community could build the centre. Jasmine also thanked the company that at cost had done a large amount of the construction. Ratios are very generous at the centre in terms of the space for children, which far exceeds what is required. The relationship with Whenuakite Primary School is such a boost and centre leavers who transition at five years are still a part of the family with the close relationship with the school being there from the beginning.
She added that “parents have come here as Mothers and ended up training to be teachers as a result of their journey with this Centre.”
The Centre Chair, Fran Jack, spoke of her first coming into the centre. “ It was very challenging for me to leave my small child with someone else and not knowing anyone, but in a few minutes, I knew that this was the right place for my daughter and for my family.”
The 20th Birthday cake was prepared by Stacey and enjoyed by everyone particularly the children.