Childcare hub dream coming true in Seddon

Children at the Awatere Early Childhood Centre urgently need a new building in case Seddon is struck by another big quake. Photo: Summa MacDonald.

Three years after 7.8-magnitude earthquake devastated communities, Seddon residents are edging closer to seeing their dream of a childcare hub come true. Paula Hulburt reports.

Its white walls bear fresh cracks, jagged lines fan out across the old church walls.

Recent earthquakes in Seddon have been small in scale but continue to make their mark, especially at the Awatere Early Childhood Centre.

It is still safe for the children to be there, but as the community plans a new purpose-built childcare hub, the fear of another big quake isn’t far away.

The $2.1 million dollar building would help allay fears and return early childhood services back to the township.

The Awatere Early Childhood centre leases a room at the picturesque former church.

Neither the Anglican Diocese who own the church or the centres using it can afford the on-going repair costs.

For Seddon mum of three Olivia Doonan, who is spearheading the massive fundraising initiative, the hub would be a dream come true.

“A big earthquake will come along one day without question. It’s always in the back of mind.

“We had some 4.2 earthquakes a couple of months ago and there are more cracks at the centre, and they’re not just hairline.

“The church is beautiful and has stained glass windows and a lovely ambience for the children to be in, but it definitely needs some work,” she says.

The Shaking Change for Good Fundraiser was launched in December 2018.

Almost a year on and the Awatere ECE Hub Trust charity is asking schools across New Zealand to help raise $700,000 with a special mufti day.

This will allow the trust to access grants to see the project become a reality.

It will see the Awatere Flaxbourne Plunket, the Awatere Early Childhood Centre and the Awatere Playcentre housed in the same facility.

The move will be of huge benefit to the community, its children and families, Olivia says.

Awatere Playcentre is currently next to Seddon School and the new hub will be situated in its grounds.

It will strengthen the bonds the two already share, Olivia says.

“At morning and afternoon tea the kids come over and talk to the littlies and throw oranges over the fence for them to eat.

“Children who were at the playcentre come and say hello and they can also come back and see mum if she’s there with a younger sibling.”

Community fundraising has raised $200,000, with applications in for more grants.

“We’re well on our way but still need a lot of help.

“The community has been very responsive,” Olivia says

Building work on the 550 square metre hub is hopefully set to start in March.

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