Tales of history, tragedy and art in one kindergarten field trip

Waimataitai Kindergarten visited Caroline Bay Beach last week to make art and learn about the area.
KOREN ALLPRESS/FAIRFAX NZ

Waimataitai Kindergarten visited Caroline Bay Beach last week to make art and learn about the area.

It was a brisk and stormy day in May 1882 when two ships, the Ben Venue and the City of Perth, both came into difficulty in Caroline Bay.

Back then, Waimataitai Kindergarten head teacher Rose Grigor said to the kindergarten's 28 children, there wasn't a sandy beach, but instead many rocks.

The kindergarten took its annual trip to Caroline Bay Beach last week, and Grigor told the children about the incident.

"We talked about the Benvenue Cliffs from this perspective, what it would be like in a storm and how frightening it must have been for the people on the boats."

Grigor also told the children about Timaru's Rocket Brigade.

"They would shoot out rockets, not to destroy, but as a means of getting distance."

The Rocket Brigade were up in the Benvenue Cliffs that fateful, stormy day, firing out the rocket, which was attached to a rope and formed a line between the ship and the land.

"At the end of the rocket was ... like a life buoy with a pair of pants attached ... [a crewman] would get into the pants and then they were pulled to shore."

A few people perished during the event, but some were saved as a result of the Rocket Brigade.

"So I got them to imagine that."

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She also talked with the children about what the area would have been like before Europeans arrived, and the kinds of toys Maori children would have played with.

"Maori children would have just come down to the beach, used natural resources."

Another activity the children took part in at the beach was making sculptures and art out of items they found on the beach, such as seaweed, driftwood, shells and sand.

"It's called ephemeral art - that means it's something that you make and that it doesn't last."

The children would leave their art behind, and it would be dispersed by nature or other people, she said.

Grigor said it was the fourth trip she had made to the beach, and it was an activity she "loved" doing.

"We try to do this once a year because we think it's important that the children know a bit about the local area."

One of their last activities on the beach was playing with a rainbow-coloured parachute.

It was interesting hearing the children talk with each other about the things they had learned, she said.

"One little girl said one day, 'Are you looking for the Haast Eagle?'"

 - Stuff

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