Ground-breaking ECE learning

posted: 8:00 pm - 1st March 2020
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(Picture caption: The road to the ground-breaking ceremony at Kirkbride Road in Mangere has been an emotional ride for CIDANZ and its supporters.)

Emotions were running high in Auckland’s Cook Islands community as the ground was broken at the Kirkbride Road site, which will boast oneCHILD Early Childhood Education (ECE) centre.

The dream to open a Cook Islands language immersion ECE in Mangere has been a long-time coming, and on Tuesday, as dawn broke, it finally became reality.

Ina Michael was part of the Cook Islands Ta’okotai’ainga Charitable Trust, that operates as the Cook Islands Development Agency New Zealand (CIDANZ).

He was the Chief Executive Officer when it was successful in securing resources through the Ministry of Education, along with the support of early education specialists – Grace Ikiua and Maurice Tuareka.

“Going back to establishment of the Trust in 2001, there has always been a vision for a cultural village,” Ina says.

“That vision is still the same and is part of a masterplan for the site which included the build of an ECE for our children, and so it is fitting the development of the first oneCHILD centre is now here and will soon see us to deliver much needed services to many generations to come.”  

Ina adds the group knew if they were serious about the revitalisation of the Cook Islands language, the centre needed to be total immersion and to complement other services.

These include an Enterprising Families Whanau Ora programme run in partnership with Pasifika Futures and current services CIDANZ is delivering nationally.

“It’s great to see the current CEO of CIDANZ Rouruina Emil’e-Brown, Chair Henry Herman and the rest of the team see this venture to fruition.

“SGA (Strachan Group Architects) have been huge contributors and Stryde, as construction at last is about to happen.”

There are already community gardens and Samoan and Niuean ECEs on the site, and Ina adds oneCHILD alongside the oneCOMMUNITY facility will pave the way to the next stage in developments in that of the oneVILLAGE facility.

The oneCHILD ECE is due to be built by 2020, opening early 2021 in partnership with the New Zealand Ministry of Education.

It will provide 60 spaces for children, who will be immersed in Cook Islands language and culture.

“We wanted to create a model of learning, which can be replicated throughout the country, given that we have great regional capability and capacity through our Cook Islands community up and down the country,” Ina explains.   

More than 81,000 Cook Islands Māori live in New Zealand and Pacific language speakers in general are declining.

This means stories our languages carry from one generation to the next will – without action be heard less and less frequently in Pacific homes and communities up and down the country.

The creation of this language nest is a big step in the right direction.

The ground-breaking ceremony was part of the two-day CIDANZ 2020 Cook Islands Aotearoa National Forum in Auckland.

As an organisation, CIDANZ aims to increase social and local economic development by supporting individuals and families to actively participate in initiatives that can generate financial wellness.

Ten Cook Islands groups from around the country to solidy their collective vision, initiatives and priorities for 2020-2030.

Guest speakers included patron of CIDANZ Hon. Alfred Ngaro; High Commissioner, Cook Islands HE Elizabeth Wright-Koteka and Pacific Medical Association Chair Dr Kiki Maoate.

During the forum, the groups took time to sign a Cooperative Pledge, outlining a shared national vision of a unified and prosperous Cook Islands Communities living in New Zealand.

Visit CIDANZ for more information.