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Sunflower Superstars Announced!

In a year that has been tough for many whānau, a children’s sunflower-growing contest has brought smiles to thousands of young faces and imparted useful lifelong skills on how to grow and nurture plants.

Over the past four months, 13,795 youngsters from 277 kindergartens across the country took part in Daltons Sunflowers in Kindergartens Project, and we can proudly reveal the winners below.

The fun project engaged budding gardeners in friendly competition, where each Kindergarten strived to grow the tallest sunflower and the sunflower with the widest head in their region. This year's event was particularly significant, achieving the highest level of participation since the project's inception.

While mother nature threw wet and wild spring weather at many of the regions, this did not dampen the enthusiasm of the dedicated kindy growers who learnt skills on how to protect and care for their sunflowers.

Daltons General Manager, Colin Parker, says; “Congratulations to the 2023 winners, you’ve all done such an amazing job! We are very thankful for the support of our project partners and the 11 kindergarten associations that participated. Special thanks also to all the wonderful teachers - your guidance and support for the tamariki throughout this project has helped us spread a love of gardening to the next generation of gardeners nationwide.”

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This biennial project is a hands-on and practical learning experience for children. Engaging in activities like sowing seeds, nurturing seedlings, transplanting them, and providing daily care to their plants, children not only acquire basic gardening skills but also develop a deeper understanding of plant life. It also provides a framework for teachers to integrate aspects of the Project into their learning curriculum.

Parker concludes, “We hope all the children have found joy and inspiration in growing their sunflowers, and that the skills they’ve gained will be shared and nurtured within their families, encouraging them to embark on their own gardening adventures at home.”

To reflect the diverse growing conditions across the country, winners have been selected from each of the eleven regions (Auckland, Nelson Tasman, Marlborough, Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Taranaki, Tauranga, Waikato, Central Kindergartens and Northland). Every kindergarten that participated in the contest grew the same sunflower variety, King Seeds ‘Skyscraper’ sunflowers, which can grow over 4 metres tall.

All the regional winners will receive a prize from Daltons, The Warehouse and GARDENA for the Tallest Sunflower and Widest Sunflower Head Awards. All participating kindergartens were entered into a nationwide draw and a Best Photo Award to win prize packs for their kindergarten.

The winners of the 2023 Sunflowers in Kindergartens Project are…

NATIONAL PRIZE WINNERS:

· Tallest Homegrown Sunflower: Hamish Hancock (3yrs 7 months), from Central Kids Apanui, grew his sunflower at home. 270cm (2.70 metres)

Nationwide Tallest Homegrown Sunflower Award: Hamish Hancock (3yrs 7 months), from Central Kids Apanui, grew his sunflower at home. 270cm (2.70 metres)

· Overall Best Photo Winner: Central Kids Huntly – Hudson, 3 years, Alicia, 5 years and Achint, 4 years

Overall Best Photo Winner: Central Kids Huntly – (from back to front): Hudson, 3 years, Alicia, 5 years and Achint, 4 years - “Our Sunflowers are getting taller!”

· National Prize Draw Winner: Richmond Kindergarten, Nelson Tasman Kindergarten Association

OFFICIAL REGIONAL WINNERS:
Daltons Tallest Sunflower Plant Winners:

  • Auckland Regional Winner: KiNZ Myers Park, 272cm (2.72 metres).
  • Central North Island Regional Winner: Central Kids Kindergartens Apanui, 251cm (2.51 metres) - Second time won Tallest Award - last time in 2015, also won Widest Head in 2019.
  • Christchurch Regional Winner: Kidsfirst Kindergartens Hei Hei, 195 cm (1.95 metres). Second time have won Widest Award, last time in 2019 project.
  • Dunedin Regional Winner: Roslyn Kindergarten, 121cm (1.25 metres)
  • Marlborough Regional Winner: Mayfield Kindergarten, 150cm (1.5 metres)
  • Nelson Tasman Regional Winner: Grove Street Kindergarten, 249cm (2.49 metres). Have won 7 years in a row - since project began in 2013
  • Northland Regional Winner: Waitangi Kindergarten, 213cm (2.13 metres). Second time have won both Tallest Award and Widest Award – also in 2021 project
  • Taranaki Regional Winner: Stratford Central Kindergarten, 182cm (1.82 metres). First time winning Tallest Award, have won Widest Award in 2017 and 2019 project
  • Tauranga Regional Winner: OPEYS All Day Kindergarten, 250cm (2.5 metres)
  • Waikato Regional Winner: Pukete Kindergarten, 206cm (2.06 metres)
  • Wellington Regional Winner: Wellington South Kindergarten, 258cm (2.58 metres)

Daltons Widest Sunflower Head Winners (measurement is of the face only – not including petals):

  • Auckland Regional Winner: Greenhithe Kindergarten, 31cm wide
  • Central North Island Regional Winner: Central Kids Ōtorohanga Kindergarten, 25.8cm wide. In 2021 project they won Widest and Tallest Awards, and Tallest in 2019 projects.
  • Christchurch Regional Winner: Kidsfirst Kindergartens Ilam, 9cm wide
  • Dunedin Regional Winner: Mornington Kindergarten, 7cm. First time winning Widest Award, previously won Tallest Award in 2013, 2014 projects.
  • Marlborough Regional Winner: Witherlea Kindergarten, 11.5cm wide. Second time winning Widest Award – won in 2021. Also previously won Tallest Award x 4: 2014, 2015, 20107, 2019 projects
  • Nelson Tasman Regional Winner: Nayland Kindergarten, 19cm wide
  • Northland Regional Winner: Waitangi Kindergarten, 23cm wide. Second time have won both Tallest Award and Widest Award – also in 2021 project
  • Taranaki Regional Winner: Pukekura Kindergarten, 11cm wide
  • Tauranga Regional Winner: Pāpāmoa Coast Kindergarten, 23cm wide. Second time have won Widest Award, last time in 2019 project.
  • Waikato Regional Winner: Hukanui Kindergarten, 15.5cm wide
  • Wellington Regional Winner: Wellington South Kindergarten, 12cm wide

To recognise the great mahi that took place in growing sunflowers of all sizes, each kindergarten chose their own 'Daltons Best Little Gardener', who were awarded a special certificate and prize. Every child who took part also received their own participation certificate as a special memento.

During the Project’s sunflower growing period, some kindergartens experienced particularly bad weather. In recognition of this, the Daltons Late Bloomers Awards will run from Wednesday 13 December 2023 to Monday 12 February. This ensures that all participating kindergartens have a fair chance for their sunflowers to bloom and be recognised.

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