27 August 2021

Kia ora tātou katoa e te Whānau Tupu Ngātahi o Aotearoa

In one of our online management team meetings this week, this whakataukī was shared:

He pai te tirohanga ki nga mahara mo nga raa pahemo engari ka puta te maaramatanga i runga i te titiro whakamua.

It’s fine to have recollections of the past but wisdom comes from being able to prepare opportunities for the future.

Over the last 6 weeks of being Acting General Manager, I have seen Playcentre Aotearoa from yet another perspective. From the start of my Playcentre journey (as a parent) in 1997, through Centre, Association & Federation volunteer roles, culminating at the Trustee Board in 2015 until 2018, to last year when I started working as part of the National Management Team, just before lockdown 2020, I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with the changes in Playcentre Aotearoa from many different perspectives.

What hasn’t changed is the energy and enthusiasm so many individuals hold for Playcentre philosophy. It never ceases to amaze me the level of passion that parents, whānau and our staff have for education, all things Playcentre, our communities and of course our own whānau and tamariki. We all have different ways of enacting Playcentre philosophy – from parents & whānau in the sandpit with their tamariki, to employees fulfilling their roles and past members who support current membership and encourage participation at Playcentres by sharing their stories.

It feels like we’ve been through a lot in the last few years. As a national organisation we started with a new structure in 2018. At the beginning of the amalgamation process, we’ve already been through a structural review and consequently the recent restructure. We have seen several staff move on to other successful roles outside of Playcentre, using their Playcentre experiences to support and further their careers. There are always mixed emotions when friends and colleagues leave; there is always a gap to fill. This can also be an opportunity for growth and change for not only the individual, but for the organisation too.   

Our centre enrolments have increased each year over the last 3 years. Unfortunately, we have also had to close a few centres over this time, and the ripples of this can impact our communities in ways we can’t always anticipate. But no matter what, we are a learning organisation that supports whānau and communities and we are constantly reviewing our systems and seeking improvements.

We have been continuously working with the Ministry of Education to modify the licencing criteria and with the Education Review Office to develop new strategies for Playcentre which reflect our needs in the new review criteria they have recently developed. We have successfully rewritten our adult Education programme to a now complete Level 4, NZQA approved Early Childhood Education qualification and we have 91 full completions so far! 

We’re all familiar with the statement “in these strange, challenging and unprecedented times” and this is also a challenge that Playcentre, like many others, must face. Even though the first Playcentres began 80 years ago, we need to remember that we are an organisation that focuses on supporting parents to be the first and best educators of their children.  There are always more opportunities for learning. Phase 2 of the restructure is now complete and the focus for operations is on aligning our processes nationally, so we continue to provide support and service to all Playcentres in Aotearoa.

Ki te kotahi te kākaho ka whati, kit e kāpuia, e kore e whati
When a reed stands alone, it can easily break; if it is in a group, it cannot.

Ngā mihi me ngā manaakitanga

Susan Bailey