Hero photograph
Photo by Clare Goodman

Manaakitanga Hapori

Katie Musk —

Community - a parent’s story by Fabiana Tato

I was reminiscing about my time at Raphael House as a parent when I first started, around 2001ish… I was so in awe of our school. Having no family at all in Aotearoa and none of our friends quite got the “Waldorf thing” it felt like I finally had a community around me. There were not many Kindergarten Festivals at that time for parents to be involved but the few things like the Winter Festival (now Matariki) and Summer Festival were activities that we looked forward to get together as a community. I was so keen to be part of anything that allowed me to learn more about the school. I became a Class Rep, took part in any of the courses available during the “Winter Lectures” and I really wanted to pick up any of the craft skills, so I joined in the Parent Craft Group and doll making workshops. Even though I was still a Kindergarten parent, I had the chance to hear about the experiences of the Lower School and Upper School parents and my newbie ears to this education system could not hear enough!

This gave me the opportunity to get to know parents that were starting and others that had been at the school for a very long time. We were all on the same journey… parents all across the school. Later on I stepped in as the coordinator of the then Parent Craft Group and became a member of our School Fair Committee for many years. One year, just talking within the craft group we decided that we needed more of the big Waldorf dolls… at the time I was the one making them, but I was not too keen on making half a dozen on my own… I loved making the dolls but sewing clothes was ‘not my thing’ and I was only learning how to knit squares at the time… Not a problem! One of the parents put her hand up and offered to make the clothes of the dolls, another parent was a wizard knitting, so she offered to get the sweaters, undies and hats sorted for them. Other parents found it hard to make it to the craft group days, but would drop some baking for the ones that could… and often that was enough to inspire visitors to pop in for a day to the Craft group.

My children’s father was a keen mosaicist and at one of the events held over the years with my daughter’s class, made the sun that still welcomes children at the top of the zig zag… It might not have looked like much at the time, but each day my children attended the school from then on, it was a reminder of our community presence for them.

It was during personal times of hardships that this same community jumped to the rescue and offered us help and support without us even asking… all of those parents that I had the chance to meet every now and then during end of term cleaning, working bees, craft groups and fairs. They were there for us.

I considered myself and our family rather fortunate to be part of this unique school… I know that times have changed and we are all getting more and more busy… but our school is still the same, it only gets stronger thanks to our community commitment regardless of how much time you can offer. A little weeding while waiting for a child to come down at the end of the day, dropping some lemonade for the people taking part of a working bee... every little bit counts and every skill is valued.

Arohanui to you all