Playcentre Community Celebrates 43 years!

17th May 2012
By Nicola Easthope

Past and present members of the Paraparaumu Playcentre community came together last Thursday evening to celebrate their 43-year history as they pave the way to constructing a new, more sustainable building for their centre.

As an Enviroschool, this fits in perfectly with their desire to develop a more sustainable culture for their centre.


The Playcentre’s past and future were well-represented by 82-year old former Association President, Anne Town and

Former Asscn. President Anne Town Holding 9 week Harper Main

9-week old Harper (who thoroughly enjoyed herself in between naps.

Anne recounted how, back in 1968, the local headmaster’s wife, Daphne Hunt, and public health nurse, Pam Bull, began Playcentre sessions twice a week in community halls, with parents helping to set up and pack down activity stations each day. By 1970, under the Kirk government, building grants became available to Playcentre Associations throughout the country.

Pam Fuller was Buildings Officer at the time, and later, President. “Essentially, the Education Department bought this building – the old school house – for us, and we put forward our ideas to John Daish, the Association’s architect. It was a great way to get things going quickly. We were very practical, and didn’t set our sights high – just got on and made the best of it”.

But after more than 120 years standing on Hinemoa Street, the old school house is showing its age. Newly appointed Life Member, Devina McGhie, who has been involved in the centre for 14 years, speaks of the Committee’s mission to create a new Playcentre, facing north, with several eco-features.

“We’re planning our new building with sustainability in mind. We’ve considered the local environment, and positioned the building to take full advantage of the sun. We’re going to use a ‘clere story’ window for passive ventilation and double-glazed windows and insulation throughout.”

Devina McGhie in vegetable garden with children

“As part of the Enviroschools Programme, we already nurture a vegetable garden, harvest rainwater, recycle and have a worm farm for composting food scraps and hand towels. We conserve water and energy, with water reduction tap attachments and energy-saving lightbulbs. But in our new building, we’ll be able to do so much more”

“When we demolish the building, we want to create a memorial wall to past members, using the original native timber (thought to be matai) to make blocks with carved and painted handprints. This will be a fundraising opportunity, as people can sponsor them.”

Four-year old Olivia Fuller has been enjoying Paraparaumu Playcentre for the past two years. “I have my own garden there, with squash, pumpkins, silver beet and also carrots. I need to water them soon – I like making sure the plants are healthy. The plants can get food by themselves, by the roots”.

While environmental education may be a relatively new endeavour for the centre, the original, core tenet of free, child-directed play remains strong. Olivia says, “I love going into the playground, and seeing all my friends there.”

Though considerable fundraising efforts have been successful, the Playcentre needs more support to make their vision a reality. To help, please contact


Paraparaumu Playcentre joined the Enviroschools Programme in 2010 to take

advantage of the support it provides for embedding sustainability into its preschool culture.

They like the way it is holisitic and creative, bicultural and child-centred,

and that it is an approach that encourages positive action.


For more information about the Enviroschools Programme on the Kapiti Coast,

please contact Nicola Easthope,

Thanks to the Kapiti Coast District Council for funding Enviroschools on the Kapiti Coast.