Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Early Childhood Centres fall like dominoes

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Clendon Kauri Kid parent Amanda Tupaea and son/Photo supplied
Photo: Clendon Kauri Kid parent Amanda Tupaea and son.
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Local Democracy Reporting | Free Public Interest News Service

By Kim Meredith of Local Democracy Reporting

The Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board last night voted to close the two Kauri Kids childcare centres in its area.

Board chair Apulu Reece Autagavaia said faced with the task of finding an extra $200k annually to keep both centres running, it was a difficult decision to make.

“We simply do not have the money to keep our ECEs open, so unfortunately we had the decision [already] made by the Mayor and council… and Ōtara and Papatoetoe Kauri Kids will now go into a transition period to have those centres close down, and I understand council staff will be working with those families in this transition period.”

He added that he had great sympathy for the affected families, especially with the current cost of living crisis and acknowledged it was a tough time for those with young children trying to plan ahead.

But given Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown and the city’s councillors decision to stop funding its 10 Kauri Kids childcare centres, on top of cutting back the budgets of local boards, Autagavaia said they were left with no real choice.

Papatoetoe Kauri Kids parent Emma Welsh spoke at the meeting Tuesday night in a last ditch effort to keep the centre open. She said they were really disappointed by the board’s decision but also recognised they were put in a difficult position.

“Our focus now is on supporting our whānau and kaiako through the transition.”

The Ōtara and Papatoetoe ECEs follow the same fate as Clendon’s Kauri Kids centre, with the Manurewa Local Board having voted last week to close it down. Parent Amanda Tupaea said her son had been there for 18 months and she thought her centre would be safe given it was a low-income area.

“I really thought with Clendon, we’d be safe. A community needs accessible, affordable education, we needed this, and I was very shocked. I really thought this wouldn’t happen.”

She said it’s been an emotional rollercoaster for parents and staff, and that despite having a number of nearby childcare centres, they were not of the same quality and affordability as Kauri Kids, adding that the relationships young children make at this stage in their development can be crucial.

“Especially in our communities, our kids need these safe, cheap spaces. This is the age where the learning sets them up for the rest of their lives.”

Mayor Wayne Brown’s office was contacted for comment but no response has been forthcoming at the time of publishing.

Local democracy reporting

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