One of Nelson’s oldest kindergartens is closing a 55-year-long chapter at its current site and starting a new one – just a hop skip and a jump up the road.
Hundreds of Nelsonians have been through Rutherford Street Kindergarten, which has been at 173 Rutherford St since 1962.
But early last year it was told by its landlord that it could not renew its lease.
The kindergarten has now been given the green light to relocate to 233 Rutherford St – the former Rutherford St Chapel, after an expensive year-long battle to gain resource consent.
The community-based kindergarten has moved a number of times in its history – to Bishop’s School, then to the cathedral’s Sunday school rooms, to its current location, and now the chapel.
Manager and senior teacher Mary Davies, who’s been there more than a decade, says the new location will be bigger, sunnier and more visible.
“No one really knows where we are now – we’re so hidden away, but the new building will really stand out. It’s going to be great – we are very excited.”
All going well, work will start on site within the next two months and the kindergarten will shift in February 2018.
Mary says the inside of the building will only need minor work before its ready to shift in to.
The really exciting work will be happening outside, with the development of a child-inspired playground.
“We’ve been taking children for walks down there and we’ve now got a book filled with children’s ideas of what they would like to have at the new site,” she says.
“It’s their centre, so they need a say. They want some water play, so there definitely will be lots of that.”
Fundraising and grants will help fund the playground, as well as heat pumps and other necessities.
As part of the move, the kindergarten has been collecting stories of its past from previous families to take its history with them to the new location.
“We want to acknowledge the past and that history as part of the shift, and we’re taking a lot from the current centre with us – there is a big mural we had done which we’ll take.”
And Mary is certain “it will be a bit emotional” leaving.
“We’ve had a long association with this site, so we’ll have a bit of sorrow – but it’s also about moving onto the next phase, which is fabulous.”