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Wharehuia Community Centre Is All Connected

If it wasn’t for the free Wi-Fi hotspot at the Wharehuia Community Centre near Stratford, a lot of gifted kids, cyclists and local weavers would have a much harder time doing what they do.

Broadband provider Primo put in the hotspot in October just before The Head Office for gifted students started running its Tuesday classes there. Katja Eager the group’s CEO had contacted Primo about whether a Wi-Fi link could be installed as the company has done at many community halls around Taranaki.

Seeing there was a good case for it, connected the centre via its wireless Internet system, and provides free data for users at the centre which use to be the Stanley School.

Ms Eager says the link has proved vital for running the classes as it gives the students access to the Internet for the research and self-guided learning they do.

28 students from 12 schools around the Stratford district attend the class each Tuesday. Katja says they have only been going for a month but already it is the highlight of the week for many of the kids.

“For a lot of them it’s the one day a week where they can be themselves. It’s the place where they can be as quirky and diverse as they like – discussing the various aspects of a hung parliament or Greek philosophy at nine in the morning, and no-one looks at them funny!

“For many of them it’s the day that gets them through the other four [at a mainstream school].”

Kylie Hancock from the Wharehuia’s Community Centre’s committee says the facility is a real community asset. When the primary school closed, the locals all chipped in to buy the property, which also has a swimming pool and tennis courts.

Apart from The Head Office it is regularly used by the Stratford Cycle Club, the Stratford Creative Fibre Group and the Stratford Yarn Group.

“We also hire the venue out to the public at $50 for a half day, $100 for a full day and the grounds are used for camping/campervans for $8 a per night,” Kylie says.

“Having Wi-Fi available at our centre is such an asset, and it will broaden our hire clientele.

“Our committee is happily celebrating what this means to our community and our future. We are very thankful for Primo for their kind contribution.”

Katja Eager says The Head Office is now able to reach a new group of children in Central Taranaki to give them the tools that will help them and their families.

A key thing is how teachers Kim Gillanders and Fiona Jackson show the children the different ways of learning there are.

“For a lot of them It’s a proper journey of discovery of who they are as a neuro-diverse person – how they learn best, what helps them to learn and we also teach them skills on how to advocate for their learning needs,” Ms Eager says.

“So once they graduate from our programme they know, for instance in high school, how to negotiate their own learning needs.

“For families it can be a lifesaver as well because this is a space where their kids feel happy and understood. If a kid is unhappy or depressed it makes for hard parenting.

“Bringing up a child with special needs is always full-on, and it doesn’t matter at which end of the spectrum of special needs they sit. These [gifted] kids are on that special-needs spectrum and a lot of people think it’s so much easier to raise those kids but boy, it’s not! They’re really intense. Everything is so much bigger and deeper. But on the other side they experience joy on a much deeper level as well. So it is full-on to parent them!

“We are just so grateful to Callum Glennie and to Primo for organising this. It will make the world of difference to a lot of our students.”

To talk about a possible community connection, email Primo’s Fairy Godmother - Jasmine Harrison at:


For anyone interested in using the hall, contact:


For information on The Head Office, go to:


© Scoop Media

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