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Toru Fetū celebrates prestigious award

Toru Fetū Kindergarten in Porirua will celebrate its Prime Minister’s award at the kindergarten on Friday with songs, speeches and lunch including traditional dishes.

The award is for excellence in community engagement, and Friday’s celebrations will give the community the chance to come together to celebrate what they have achieved.

Toru Fetū means three stars and the kindergarten nurtures three languages and three cultures – those of the Cook Islands, Niue and Tuvalu.

The day will include speeches from MPs and members of the three communities, devotions, a performance from the children, and the unveiling of the award itself. Civic and community leaders as well as past and present families will attend.

The kindergarten grew from three playgroups that came together ten years ago. It is licensed for 80 children spread over three rooms, one for each language. Toru Fetū operates a full day service for children from six months to five years, but it is more than a kindergarten, it is a community hub that offers many other services to families.

Cabinet Minister and local MP Kris Faafoi, Green MP Jan Logie and civic leaders will attend, as well as church ministers, leaders from the separate communities and current and past children and families.

Toru Fetū is run by He Whānau Manaaki Kindergartens, and Caroline Mareko, Senior Manager for Communities and Participation says the vision includes strong language and culture but also quality early education with qualified teachers. The service has been successful because of the attitudes of respect that everyone brought with them, she says. “We have stayed true to the dream we all set out with.”

Senior Head Teacher Trinity Coulston says children develop a strong sense of confidence which helps them through life. Secrets to strong engagement with families include teachers taking time to develop relationships, teachers with community links, and teachers who care, not just about the children but about culture and families and making those connections. “Teachers and parents know each other, trust each other” says Trinity.

The service has supported local students to study while working to help develop qualified teachers with Pasifika language skills.

Toru Fetū provide community space for groups to use out of kindergarten hours, and it provides other services such as health services.

The kindergarten is the only early learning service to win an award, which celebrates “outstanding achievements” in early childhood, primary and secondary education.

Toru Fetū is well known nationally and internationally for what it has achieved, inspiring both visitors and invitations to present at conferences both here and overseas.

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