For over 50 years Aratupu has touched countless families living in the surrounding area of Northcote, Papanui and Bryndwr.

From Monday through to Friday, Aratupu Preschool & Nursery positively hums with the sound of children playing and parents catching up with one another. Now and then a loud "Haere Mai Tamariki!" pierces through this wall of sound as a teacher calls the children to attention. It is a special place and a real focal point in the community.

Aratupu is a whānau hub with an early education centre at its heart. Children aged between 0 and 6 years old have the opportunity to play, do physical activity, learn healthy eating and develop self-care skills in a positive environment which fosters independence. There is a strong emphasis on Maori culture and language as well as building effective and supportive relationships with children and their whānau.

Marcia Manson-Glover first started out as a teacher at Aratupu over 9 years ago and now job shares the Team Leader role with Katie Parks. "Aratupu is an extended whānau where we care for, nurture and grow the whole family unit," says Marcia. "Every day I get excited to see the children and their parents and have some fun!"

The majority of children at Aratupu are from young single parent families who rely on a benefit or a low income with 95% receiving the WINZ childcare subsidy. The families mainly come from Northcote and the Jellie Park area of Bryndwr, two areas of Christchurch with high levels of poverty.

What is unique about Aratupu is the presence of Annie Smith, the on-site Whānau Support Worker. Annie provides wrap-around support to parents with children at Aratupu, ranging from food parcels and help with parenting through to supporting families to navigate the school system and assistance with school costs for their school-aged children. "Aratupu is a gateway for families in the community to receive the help they need", says Annie. "Often these families just need a helping hand to get through a particularly tough time."

Many of the families are disaffected from the health system when they first start at Aratupu and are not enrolled with primary health services such as GP and dentist. Through a partnership with Pegasus Health, Aratupu has two Community Health workers based on-site. Annie works closely with them to make sure families are enrolled and able to receive the healthcare and support they are entitled to.

Aratupu currently has space available in both the nursery (0 - 2 years) and preschool (2 – 6 years). Please contact Marcia or Katie on 03 352 6816 or feel free to pop into Aratupu at 97 Harewood Road in Papanui, Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 2.30pm.

Our thanks to the Strathlachlan Fund and Dublin Street Charitable Trust for their recent grants towards funding the Whānau Support Worker role.

Picture Caption: Aratupu Team Leader Marcia Manson-Glover with Harrison George.

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