Kandace shared a moment

Kandace Smiler | May 2022

From my mother Tania: My daughter Kandace Rewa Smiler attended one of the first Kohanga Reo based at Waiwhetu Marae and Te Aroha cricket clubrooms from 1982 to 1985.

From my mother Tania: My daughter Kandace Rewa Smiler attended one of the first Kohanga Reo based at Waiwhetu Marae and Te Aroha cricket clubrooms from 1982 to 1985. As a group of parents who had the desire without the knowledge of what was required to run the Kohanga, we forged ahead to make our Kohanga a success. We were lucky enough to have the support and guidance of Kuini Moehau Reedy who had set up the first Kohanga Reo in Wainuiomata and was a cousin to Kandace’s father. At the time we had no Govt funding, but found a way to pay three full time teachers who had no “education qualifications”, however were strong in language and culture. We paid $50 a week for each child which was a lot back then, a roster to provide morning/afternoon tea for our tamariki, with the Marae chipping in to cover lunch. We were also fighting for Kura kaupapa to be available in schools and were prepared to keep our tamariki at Kohanga until they turned 6 (legally a child had to attend school from age 5, however we took the stand that a child is 5 until they turn six, so we would send them the day before the sixth birthday, luckily this extreme measure never came to pass.

The Nanies and teachers at Kohanga were fabulous and our kids thrived...

None of us parents at that time could speak Te Reo, so we learned along with our tamariki and attended a class once a week at the Marae. At the time both my husband Hemi and I were working full time, so we would drop Kandace off to her Aunty Laura Taiapa in “the Grove” – what Puketapu Grove was known as, and she would walk her over to the club rooms and pick her up each day.