19 November 2021
Numbers tell a story
I love stories. Whilst I love a good book (The Lord of the Rings is one of my favourites) I particularly love hearing people’s stories as they tell me so much about the person telling the story. The experiences that have shaped them give me insights into their values and philosophy and I find that there are always lessons for me in those stories. I love learning through stories.
I also love numbers. The add up and they make sense. They provide a clear and firm foundation for informed decisions and I love making informed decisions. This week, numbers and stories have come together for me in a powerful way.
I have been reflecting on the numbers in the history of our organisation. 1941 was when Playcentre Aotearoa was born in Karori as a community organised by parents and using parents as teachers. The years that followed were full of stories of growth in tamariki, whānau, centres and communities as Playcentres became commonplace. In 1989, Playcentre made a commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi followed in 1994 by an acknowledgement of Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the founding document of Aotearoa New Zealand. These numbers tell the story of a innovative and pioneering organisation driven by whānau tupu ngātahi.
This week the numbers have also had a harder edge. 2 is the number of local centres that are going through the process of closing down and getting to the final stages where we have to work through the logistics of actual closure.
724 is the number of staff that we have across the motu supporting all our centres. 78 is the number of those staff either unvaccinated or for whom we do not have their vaccination status as required under the Government mandate. This means we have had to stand them down and start a consultation process with each person individually. My hope is that we will not lose a single member of staff through this process.
Just under 6,000 is the number of our volunteers who have confirmed their vaccination status and can therefore continue to physically attend local centres. It saddens me to have to say that this number tells me that we will be farewelling a number of whānau as a result of the vaccine mandate. No matter what our personal views are on the vaccine and the mandate, that hurts. We will know the full extent of that hurt over the coming days.
For those whānau who have decided to leave, I respect your decision. I have to say that I wish you hadn’t made it as I don’t want to lose a single whānau over this but I fully respect your right to make that decision. Because we do things the Playcentre way, every one of our families will have made a positive impact on not only their own tamariki but also many others. So thank you so much for what you have done. I am genuinely hopeful that we will be able to welcome you back as soon as possible and we are doing all we can to achieve that.
For those of us staying, thank you so much. I honour your commitment to Playcentre and thank you for all you have done, are doing and will continue to do. It is true for our staff and it is true for all our volunteers, we literally could not do this without you.
So on the one hand, the numbers this week tell a dark story but on the other hand I do know that Playcentre has the heritage of facing challenges right back to 1941. I also know that it is darkest before the dawn. I fully believe that not only will we survive this dark episode in our story as Playcentre Aotearoa but we will thrive through it. Now is not the time to let our heads drop and let some dark numbers dictate to us. Now is the time to accept the numbers as they are today and determine that we will change them. We can do this by focusing on our core philosophy which is exactly what our nation needs right now. Whānau tupu ngātahi through the recognition that parents are the first and best educators, working together in an inclusive community supporting each other and learning together. Tamariki learning and growing through messy play in their own village alongside others creating lifelong friendships.
Now is the time to lift our heads and reaffirm our belief in this philosophy and the critical need for it in our nation today. It might seem counterintuitive at this point but now is the time to focus on growth. The question that I am asking myself is “How do we grow more families together?” followed by “How do we get more tamariki and whānau into our existing centres?” and then “How do we open new centres where there is not one right now?”. I am fully confident that together we can answer these questions and that we can determine the next episode of our story. That episode will not be one dictated by dark numbers but rather one of light and life determined by our own actions.
I invite you to join me in the writing of this next episode of our story and to change the numbers by asking these questions and unleashing the full creativity and potential of our amazing organisation in each and every Playcentre around the motu.
Ngā mihi nui me ngā mihi aroha,
Playcentre Aotearoa is committed to ensuring the health and safety of all tamariki, employees, members and volunteers and other persons who may be affected by our work. Playcentre Aotearoa’s priority is to ensure we do everything we reasonably can to protect and prevent all persons within our community being exposed to the risk of COVID-19.
Playcentre Aotearoa has determined that under the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021 (Order) and under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 it is necessary to put in place a COVID-19 Vaccination Policy to minimise the risk of exposure to and transmission of COVID-19 in our workplaces and to ensure the safety, health and well-being of our tamariki, employees, members, volunteers and other persons who may be affected by our work.
Playcentre Aotearoa have carried out a Covid-19 Risk Assessment for the whole organisation. This risk assessment informs the National Covid-19 Vaccination Policy, Centre Cleaning Protocol, Office Cleaning Protocol and Self-Assessment Poster.
The Cleaning Protocols will need to be printed by each Centre/Office and passed on to cleaners as well circulated to Centre Members/Staff who are responsible for cleaning the Centre/Offices.
The Self-Assessment Poster works alongside the sign-in tablet and other forms of sign in a hire group may use. Each person entering the premises must complete a self-assessement (this is a personal assessment of themselves and any tamariki they are bringing onto the premises) as part of entering the premises. If as part of the self-assessment you answer yes to any of the questions you should not enter the premises.
Thank you for providing such constructive feedback through the COVID-19 feedback form. Each response is valuable and is being considered and discussed as we navigate this situation.
If you have a question or would like clarity on a specific point, please submit this through the COVID-19 feedback form available here:
For those who haven’t yet, please provide your vaccine details through the questionnaire and further information is also available here on the website under the COVID-19 section, vaccine mandate.
Please feel free to pass the questionnaire on to any centre members, extended whānauthat attend that may have missed it.
It is the responsibility of each individual to advise us of their vaccination status and not attend Playcentre if they do not comply.
Playcentre Aotearoa are collecting and managing this information at a National Level. Centres are not required to hold a register, or ask other members about their vaccination status. This allows you to focus on your tamariki and your whānau at your centre.
Thank you for the feedback provided regarding the drop off signage and amount of settling time. The responses have been varied, with some preferring gate drop offs, some preferring a 5 minute limit and some requesting a 30 minute limit. As you all know, in a Playcentre context, drop off’s are not as common given the high level of parent involvement. In addition to the previous two drop off signage options we have created a 30 minute signage template which is available through the link below. Within your centre please discuss this and choose which option you are most comfortable with.
New signage templates are:
All PLD and Education workshops are part of Playcentre Aotearoa’s core business and as such come under the Government vaccination mandate. Playcentre Education and PLD have committed to continuing to be family-friendly – babies are welcome at all workshops and older children where supervision is pre-arranged. It is the responsibility of attendees to meet the vaccination requirements. Like all sessions and out-of-session events, the cleaning protocol will be followed at the end of the workshop to keep the centre whānau safe.
Why can’t Playcentres open in Level 3 but other ECEs can?
Evidence shows that COVID-19 is most transmissible from adult to adult, followed by Adult to child. Child to child is a negligible rate. Due to the higher number of adults present on any Playcentre session the Ministry of Education has decided we don’t open in Level 3.
We are engaged with discussions with the Ministry of Education about what our Playcentre sessions look like within the COVID-19 Protection Framework, also referred to as the traffic light system. We will update you as soon as we have further information.
Play Week Aotearoa 2021 is a celebration of play and its value to tamariki, whānau and communities across Aotearoa. It’s about encouraging play at home, in your neighbourhood and within your local environments, where lockdown restrictions allow.
We’re encouraging you to say yes to play. It’s the easiest way for tamariki and whānau to stay active. Play is fun, it offers freedom and chances to take risks. It’s how our tamariki learn to problem solve, get creative, make mistakes and create new friendships. They get to build the attitudes, skills and life-long love of being active.
Play also allows tamariki to experience joy and laughter in a way that is important to them.
During Play Week Aotearoa 2021 whānau across Aotearoa are encouraged to do something for play no matter how big or small.
It’s been a tough time for many lately and COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of wellbeing for whānau and tamariki. Taking time out to have some fun will help lift everyone’s spirits through play. It’s as easy as saying yes to play. Aotearoa, Tākaro Mai!
Play Week Aotearoa is being promoted across New Zealand by government agencies (Sport NZ and a number of government agencies – Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, Department of Conservation, Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities, ACC, Ministry of Health), Regional Sports Trusts, councils, Kaupapa Māori NGOs and stakeholders, and other organisations who want to share the importance of play with the communities they work with and to encourage them to play.