Aratupu Preschool: Christchurch Methodist Mission
Points of difference at Aratupu preschool include wrap around services for families and whanau, direct access to health and social services, life-skills courses and strong support for te reo Māori. Andrea Wilson-Tukaki (pictured right), the centre Co-ordinator, said:
We are in an area of low income families with a predominance of single mothers. We are inundated with enrolments and have a waiting list of two years. There’s a lack of community centres for families in Christchurch.
The programme at Aratupu is a social cultural framework , based on relationships with self, with others and with the environment.
This means learning how to be with friends, to look after each other and the environment. Learning goes beyond the centre to visits for experiential learning. Recently they had taken the bus to ‘science alive’, an activity that would be unaffordable for their families to get to.
Andrea noted: ‘We have a strong commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi’, and she linked this to their high percentage of M?ori children and whanau, about 70%. None of staff are Maori but they seek professional development to support knowledge of tikanga and Te Reo M?ori. Flowing from the tikanga of te reo, Andrea said ‘We start every day with karakia and we want children to know who they are and where they come from. Most families are not from here, they have iwi connections in North Island’.
Aratupu employs a Whanau Support Worker, Julie Anne Pyatt (pictured left) to support parents with wrap around services. She is able to provide support for parenting and other needs such as financial advocacy. Access to food can be provided directly via the Methodist Mission. Julie-Anne said ‘it is unique to have immediate access to food parcels’.
Julie-Anne also has a role through the DHB Partnership health programme, and this gives access to health care for Aratupu whanau. She said ‘two of the main concerns I have are fuel poverty and inadequate food. There are many studies now that show the importance of healthy food for brain development’. Talk of food needs leads Julie-Anne to take Manaaki Hapori project visitor, Betsan, to the veggie gardens outside. The lush zucchini plants and tomatoes and other veggies are to sustain the Aratupu kitchen and are part of the learning for children, teachers, and whanau: ‘Two of our families have started gardens in their own home’. Gardening and learning about nutrition come with growing and caring for plants, and with sharing kai. The children have a cooked lunch every day and sit together to share it. The gardens were started two years through Community Public Health. During the two week summer break residents from Wesleycare, which is over the back fence, come over and care for the gardens. These older neighbours also come to special events such as a Christmas party.
Julie-Anne visits whanau and families at home to get practical understanding of challenges around parenting, and to respond to questions about services available to Aratupu families. Budgeting and advocacy are available through the Methodist Mission Te Kete Oranga service, and karitane-plunket nurse services through health providers. Some of the courses that have been popular are safe driving, parenting, community energy action for keeping houses warm. Home based social work is often about managing challenging behaviour.
Woman wise is a course for developing self-esteem for women from Aratupu and others in community. Some women have joined the Whaiora Trust community garden which Julie-Anne said ‘is wonderful for learning to grow organic veggies, and for becoming more self-sufficient’.
With the combined resources of the Methodist Mission and Partnership Health Julianne is able to access primary care and to focus women on the health of themselves and their children. She values a community development approach to responding to interests and needs of whanau. We were running an art class, but saw the Hiphop class was getting more response so we changed to that. Then we saw the parents joining in with the Hiphop, so we ran a Hiphop class for adults. We need to be flexible.
The benefits? ‘Women have improved parenting, better mental health and they are managing personal conflicts as well as learning assertiveness. With enhanced wellbeing they are growing the confidence to look at their own learning needs and moving into tertiary education at polytechs and universities’.
Contact names <Donna Ellen> Manager Community Services, Christchurch Methodist Mission firstname.lastname@example.org
For information on parish initiatives visited for the NZCCSS Manaaki Hapori project, contact:
Phone: 04 473 2627 / 021-388-337