Tēnā koutou e te kaupapa whānau,

The huge success of the four EC-Menz regional hui across Aotearoa has created a wonderful new platform for high-quality, relevant, and affordable professional development for our early childhood sector. Welcoming men and women in all roles across the early education field, these short-day events are sure to become even more popular as time goes on.

The Wellington regional hui was held at the Childspace Workshop, where nearly thirty men and women (and one particularly cool three-year-old) engaged in a fantastic day of quality professional learning. While a workshop may seem a strange choice of venue for early childhood teachers, much of the feedback mentioned this as a very positive element! We were surrounded by ECE environment projects in various stages of development, including tapa-inspired coloured Perspex sandpit windows, giant musical instruments created from upcycled materials, and an experimental ropes course known as ‘Dopamine Forest’.

The day started with an informal guitar jam while we drank good coffee (it is Wellington, after all) and made and renewed friendships. It was particularly exciting to see such a wide representation from across the sector, including students from our local training providers.

After our formal welcome and blessing (the acoustics for our waiata were surprisingly good for a workshop), we introduced ourselves and then got down to business.

Toni Christie began by exploring the revised Te Whāriki curriculum, highlighting the major changes and demonstrating ways in which these could influence our practice. We can continue to be extremely proud of our world-leading curriculum document. Robust discussion was had by all, and many different (and sometimes surprising) viewpoints were put forward. More locally-roasted coffees were had during our kai break, along with an hilarious group photo shoot amongst the climbing ropes in the forest. Victoria University ECE student Max then took us on a journey through the development of a regular fire-making programme at Childspace Northland, and policy and benefit-risk analyses examples were passed around the group. Many of the participants had extensive experience in this area, and shared their own approaches, which was most exciting. Max’s plans for the lighting of group fires was curtailed by the classic windy Wellington weather, although one small fire was lit using a flint and steel in the open doorway of the workshop (with hose and extinguisher standing by). Robin Christie then closed the day with a hands-on paper-folding session where we built the world’s best paper hats, folding ‘thunderclappers’, and then (startling) newspaper trees. We closed with another karakia and a huge group version of the song ‘What’s up’. By this time out two barbecues (one vegetarian) were humming, the local craft refreshments were chilled, and a very social time was had by all.

A special mention must be made of local committee chairperson Rollin’ Dave Sinnott and EC-Menz national treasurer Stuart Miller for the karakia kai, world-class barbecue, and general good vibes. Kia ora korua.

These half-day hui are sure to become sought-after events on the professional development landscape, keep up to date with ecmenz.org and with your regional network to see what’s going on in your area.

Ngā mihi maioha, whānau!