Thursday, November 10, 2011


We have just held our Literacy Leaderhip Retreat at the Lakes Lodge Okataina. Suffice to say that we were located right on the edge of the very beautiful Lake Okataina. We were in fact staying in what are the only dwellings on this lake, the Lakes Lodge. The lake and surrounding bush were gifted to the Crown by Ngati Tarawhai in 1921. Okataina is “place of laughter” this relates back to one of the important stories about this lake. We certainly experienced lots of laughter over the weekend. This lake is without outlets and is the only lake in the district that is surrounded completely by bush. The forest includes fine examples of  rimu, totara, rata and pohutukawa. Some of us explored the bush at night and were totally delighted to hear the sound of both kiwi and morepork. We also saw the glow worms throughout the bush. It was quite magical.

Throughout this blog are comments from teachers attending the Okataina Retreat.

“This weekend has great!! It has been cool to hear the stories from everyone else and to see how different everyone’s journey with their other centre has been. The honesty and support shown to each other made me feel more relaxed and comfortable to talk. “

“Having discussions both personal and professional is always interesting with other early childhood professionals. It’s a great opportunity to discuss and share ideas and experiences.. Today has been again insightful! Hearing and seeing others learning stories is fantastic. It is always a reflection of practice when you see other teachers practice. The different structure and content of the stories help to challenge and extend my own practice in assessment and learning for children in our kindergarten. Thank you ELp for providing the opportunity to share and learn from our colleagues.”

“I was very excited to be attending this weekend... I understand that it would be able sharing, but also talking and collaborative learning with others, which I really enjoy. Discussions not only about our ELP journeys, challenges and for us it is not over yet” .

“I was really looking forward to this weekend! For two reasons. First of all a relaxing weekend away, relaxation, the thought of ‘yummy food’, PEACE, and lots of good company. Secondly, again it was another opportunity for ‘team building’ as we were here as a complete team. I’ve noticed that these opportunities are enabling us to become a strong, resilient team, to get to know each other and to share a little more of ‘myself’.”

“This weekend has been a real treat for me, time away from home responsibilities, surrounded by great company, along with being taken care of by our awesome hosts. I have enjoyed our professional discussions, I am taking away many ideas to implement, to improve my practices.”

An opportunity to explore the possibilities of ephemeral art!

“I have never heard of Ephemeral Art. To actually create a piece of art using what you have around you to tell a story was a challenge but one that I enjoyed ...”

“ It was a cool experience to try and create ephemeral art to symbolise our journey as mentors and learners on this ELP journey”.

 “The fishing trip was a highlight for me. Fish are not on my list of favourite things and I am quite amazed with myself that I spent nearly all the time out the back with a rod in my hand, would have dropped it like a hot potato if something came on it!.”

“Yesterday was the first time I had been fishing, so now I have gained some skill and knowledge”

“It was so relaxing to be fishing on this lovely boat, a real opportunity to quietly reflect and to be in the moment”.

 There were challenges with the fishing as well! We did manage a fairly major tangle!!!

We travelled across the lake and spent time in different parts of the lake. The peace the tranquility....

“The lake was so quiet, apart from two kayakers we saw no one else on the lake over the four hours we were exploring and fishing on the lake, wow, such peace. It was so beautiful”.

Some took opportunities to get up on top and enjoy the view!

Inside the boat more opportunities to share and chat

 “It was cool to be able to just sit around on the boat, in such a beautiful environment, just enjoying the peace and tranquility and the company of others.”

Saturday night dinner was a celebration! Fish philosophy in action. A time to play and be a little creative!
“The props at dinner added fun to the night and shows that as adults we find dressups fun too!”
“ Fabulous food and a wonderful celebration, such a treat!”


“ All in all this retreat has been an amazing weekend filled with laughter, talking and friendship. As a practitioner I have been provided with an opportunity to engage in numerous professional discussions, be creative and reflect on ‘wise practice’. Thank you”

“Being near water this weekend has been healing. I have enjoyed being part of a group of like minded people who have this common bond and purpose. Listening to the korero lead me to think about my journey - kia ora. Having time on the lake gave me time to ‘be’. I don’t get much opportunity for that, so it has been a weekend of reflection, rest and connecting. Thank you for making it possible.”

“I have discussed this weekend, the things that make me who I am. I have enjoyed the fellowship of my colleagues and felt accepted as part of the group. I have felt supported on my teaching journey in a way that I some times miss in my professional life. I have felt my ideas and feelings have been valued. I have learnt from listening and talking with others.
I will take away with me further knowledge and an increased confidence in my ability to find further learning from a variety of areas around me, people, reading etc. I aim to read about learnt optimism.”

“It has been a very relaxing weekend, with a variety of activities. I thoroughly enjoyed my morning walks with my friends. Can’t remember when I have laughed so much and for so long. The venue was superb, fantastic choice, Okataina has certainly lived up to it’s name (place of laughter).”

“Beautiful setting, beautiful people - ka pai .... Whakawhanaungatanga is very present at Okataina.”

“Food, company and new learning has been wonderful and as I sit here looking at the photo’s of this weekend moving across the screen in front of me, I feel lucky to have had this opportunity to have fun, share ideas and just come together. To Wendy and Alison, it was a privilege to listen to your wise words and  to be treated to such a special time..thank you.”

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