Taradale Playcentre have introduced image-based murals to represent their philosophy.

Our mural projects started because our previous president and the vice president needed to update our philosophy as part of the annual strategic review process. It is recommended centres review their beliefs and values once a year. Another big influence’s, was one of our Mum,s Amie, wanted an outdoor mud kitchen for her son, Jayden. We had a space that was underutilized and decided to turn it into an outdoor kitchen area. 

We went through a consultation process, getting feedback from our centre members though brainstorming and conversations around the kai table. One of the management team, Julia made the point of getting our tamariki voice, so I made a children’s survey which had some very cute responses. In summary, for them Taradale Playcentre was about ‘people, friendship and togetherness, play and all of its opportunities and the positive feeling of “happiness, fun, and playing”

We looked at whakataukī for inspiration and got valuable feedback from Liz Neill. In the end, we decided ‘Whānau Tupu Ngatahi – Families growing together’ best suited our centre – and it is also Playcentre Aotearoa’s tagline. It struck a chord with who we are and what we believe. I found a font called ‘Playlist Script’ from the PR document ‘branding procedures’ on the Playcentre members website. We tested the idea of positioning it inside the silhouette of a waka – reflecting the idea of ‘He waka eke noa’ but ended up taking it in another direction.

All up, 5 mums painted the text-based mural inside our centre in 3 evenings. At the end of 2019, Mums Amie and Nicole drove the awesome outdoor kitchen project. It was installed at the beginning of 2020. Amie had an idea to install a mural in the space to visually communicate our philosophy and reflect ideas of outdoor kitchen play.

We approached two local artists and, in the end, an ex Playcentre member volunteered to help us. Her name is Sallie Dunford and she attended our centre, back in 1974 and 1975 with her twin sister and Mum. For Sallie, there was definitely some sentimental value in helping us enrich our space. She associates some of her creativity to attending Playcentre.

Sallie had already created four other amazing murals for our centre in 2010 with the help of some youth mural artists as part of a Community Max project. So this would be her fifth mural – talk about dedication! She really appreciates the opportunity to co-create with her community. Sallie has a real sustainability element to her craft as an artist and she repurposes a lot of paint/surfaces as much as she can, which we appreciated. 

I shared with Sallie all of the key ideas from the consultation work we did with the first text-based mural. With an art teacher background, I appreciate creative freedom so we tried to give Sallie lots of freedom with how she wanted to portray these ideas. I explained we wanted the subject matter that reflected our unique local geography such as the historic Otatara Pa near us and Pukekura hill (Sugarloaf) which you can see from our centre. We wanted Maori patterns reflecting the idea of togetherness and symbolism that reflected our multicultural whanau. Sallie incorporated ‘the flower of life’ in the middle of the composition which symbolises creation and reminds us of the unity of everything. Sallie and I also discussed the idea of incorporating the idea of a pepeha – which Sallie really connected with. She included the Tutaekuri river, our local river (awa). Because of the context of the mural in the outdoor play kitchen – she also incorporated food references of kai moana in Harakeke baskets. She positioned Paua which is a symbol of our local iwi – Ngati Kahungunu. She also incorporated the ideas of night and day, a Matariki reference, an eel – a creature that swims in both salt and freshwater since we are close to the coast.


I feel we are in a privileged position having these Playcentre spaces for our kids. I see it as our responsibility to enhance and maintain our centres as best we can. These projects started with members who have sadly since moved on and we have been passed a baton to carry them on.

“It always a pleasure to receive invitations from Playcentre and other education environments to co-create art for and with them. Particularly those that reflect my Kaupapa and intentions. Fostering whānau development with tamariki at the centre are what engage me, along with moving forward through conscious leadership demonstrated via sustainable practices and processes. Awesome to see this flourishing out there and Te Whāriki being strengthened.  Arohanui Sal xxx “

Taradale Playcentre would like to take the opportunity to thank Mitre 10 Napier and Mammoth Signs for so willingly supporting us with supplying some materials and all the parents who contributed to these murals. A big shout out to Conny, Ricky, Amie, and Nicole for planting the seed – we miss you guys.


Nicola Smith

Taradale Playcentre