Darfield Playcentre founding member Dawn Broughton cutting the cake marking 65 years

Sixty-five successful years

by Ann van Engelen

Darfield Playcentre marked 65 years of community interaction last weekend with past, and present families attending the celebrations.

“Our playcentre first started in 1954 in the Calvin Hall at the Presbyterian church. Calvin Hall was moved in September 1976 to make way for the new Trinity Church, so the playcentre relocated to the Anglican Hall in 1975. In 1981, we moved into our current building at 8 Ross Street,” says playcentre member Kathleen Janmaat.

“The first supervisor was Dorne Sambrook and later Mrs Margaret Broughton, a trained kindergarten teacher. Noreen Pearson took over until 1973 and was our patroness for many years. We were lucky to have her in that position supporting our centre. In 2005, we secured funding for a purpose-built building that was delivered on-site, and our little village settled into place.

“The playcentre was gifted the name Puawananga, meaning Stars of the Forest in 2017 by Te Taumutu Runanga, a lovely distinction that we now wear with pride carrying our bicultural heritage into our everyday practices.“

Approximately 13 past members, including founding member Dawn Broughton, 25 current members and families enjoyed last weekend’s celebrations.

“There were bouncy castles and face painting, a cutting of the cake by Dawn and photos for people to look at. Past members enjoyed mingling with present members, and everyone appreciated seeing where the playcentre came from as we brought a touch of the past into the present. We have approximately 40 families attending on a regular basis with five sessions a week Monday to Friday from 9am–noon. Playcentre is a massive support for all everyone, and provides the opportunity to chat with like-minded parents in an environment where play is valued. Children can get messy and have a ball — it is a real village atmosphere.

“We invite all families to come and join us. Most of our curriculum is based on learn by play where children are supported in their play. It is a very healthy environment for building relationships while mum, dad, caregivers or grandparents are right there at hand. It is very much an extended supportive family situation.

“65 years on our purpose and ambition is to grow little people into caring, loving adults through the magical powers of play, and we do that in every single session, every day.”