On 24 February a fantastic celebration was held to mark 80 years since Runanga Playcentre first opened on the West Coast of the South Island.

We had a full house of past & present families that had a lovely morning reminiscing over some history while enjoying cake. Many discussions around the improvements and how lovely it is to see the place “alive again” this made for some emotional moments. 

Phyllis Johnson, soon to turn 90 years young, was heavily involved in securing funding for the building. The mines department provided funds to get started in the early 1960’s. Phyllis shared her supervisor’s certificate that she achieved in 1962.  

Joy Fisher, Phyllis’s niece, was one of the first children to join the Playcentre alongside her mum Ngaire Fisher. Ngaire was on the committee that started the Playcentre. She recently passed away at 100 yrs old.  

Joy continued her Playcentre journey becoming the librarian for the North Shore Playcentre Association in Auckland.  

Kate Rogatski, who alongside her husband, has put a huge amount of time and energy into Runanga Playcentre and the organising of this celebration shared some thoughts.  

“It’s a milestone that I feel extremely proud of for many reasons.  Being the first Playcentre on the Westcoast to open in 1944, the Centre had previously been closed for 5 years, but reopening Runanga Playcentre’s doors has been the most rewarding community project I have ever achieved.”

“The Centre feels like my families’ second home, that we get to share with the community every week, bringing families together. Being involved with so many families growing together, it’s a real privilege.”

“Next steps are to complete the ongoing outdoor projects and open the Centre another day. Thanks to Playcentre Aotearoa and the Upper South Island team for all your support.”