A Morning at Clendon Park Primary School

Recently, some of the Milford Foundation Trustees were invited by Graeme Dingle Foundation to Clendon Park School to see the impact of their Kiwi Can programme first-hand. Clendon Park is a decile 1 primary school located in the heart of Manurewa, Auckland, with 93% of students being Maori or Pasifika. The school prides itself on providing students with a multicultural learning environment, with a Maori bilingual unit established in 2000.

Kiwi Can is the Graeme Dingle Foundation’s primary school programme teaching key life skills and values, with 21,000 children across Aotearoa going through this programme every week. 

Kiwi Can is a huge part of the school’s culture and has been for the past 10 years, with the programme being introduced to Clendon Park in 2011. Milford up until the launch of the Milford Foundation has supported the Kiwi Can programme for several years, and after our review process through establishing the Milford Foundation, it became abundantly clear that the Milford Foundation would continue to do so. Part of the ongoing relationship with our partners moving forward is to stay close to the grants we distribute by ensuring we see on a regular basis how the money is being used and ultimately the impact it is making. In late May, the Milford Foundation Trustee’s were invited to view the Kiwi Can programme first hand, of which we did one bleak and bitterly cold Auckland Friday morning. 

When you work in Auckland’s city centre and go home to a warm dry home at the end of the day, you might be forgiven for not considering the abject poverty just 40 minutes down the Southern Motorway. Parking outside Clendon Park school we were struck almost immediately by the sight of children arriving to start their school day in clothing that was not conducive to the climate that day. So many of the kids wearing shoes multiple sizes too big for them, some with no shoes at all. Whilst we hovered outside the school gates waiting for our hosts, what we also observed was the enthusiasm on every single child’s face at the prospect of the school day ahead. The arrival into what became quickly clear to us, to a safe environment where the pressures from the outside world and challenging home environments were kept firmly outside the school gates until 3pm each day. 

The Principal and Deputy Principal greeted us with utter sincerity and openness and talked freely about the challenges they face on a daily basis educating children from year 0-8 in a 1 decile school environment with, most of its students growing up in below the poverty line households. These leaders, both having been at the school for well over a decade clearly had a formidable partnership and it was clear to us that they work tirelessly both inside and out of the school ensuring that their students are in a safe learning environment and that the students are given every opportunity possible to shine. 

The Kiwi Can programme is run by ‘Kiwi Can Leaders’ employed by the Graeme Dingle Foundation, and offers each year group a lesson once a week in a dedicated classroom. We can only describe the three Kiwi Can Leaders we met that day as utterly impressive.  

The mana they portrayed to the class we observed was magnetic. Each and every child was utterly focussed on the lesson of that day which was around Integrity. Roll playing, interactive play and clear definitions and examples of what Integrity is and what it isn’t and why it is important, were interwoven throughout the 40 minute lesson. We were completely captivated by both the Kiwi Can leaders and the children. 

We were left in absolutely no doubt that the funding we provide the Graeme Dingle Foundation is a fantastic investment as we observed these children learning crucial values to set them up to be the best possible versions of themselves. Each and every child we observed that morning clearly knew the importance of respect and integrity and were genuinely kind to each other while in awe of their Kiwi Can Leaders. It really was a special  gift for us to be included in the classroom that day  and to see the benefit of our funding first hand. 

Bryce Marsden 

Chief Executive, Milford Foundation