Tamariki grow giant sunflowers

By Mare Haimona-Riki

Children from Avondale kindergarten have managed to grow a 3-metre tall sunflower in just a couple of months. As part of the “Daltons Sunflowers in Kindergartens Project,” over 200 kindergartens from around the country are competing to see who can grow the biggest Sunflower. 

For Moana Scott (Ngāti Kahungunu) she has already seen the fruits of this labor with her 3-year-old son, “Junior” getting to work in their own garden.

“Honestly, he loves it! He will even go into our garden at home, have a pot around in there, well we think he’s pulling out the weeds, but he’s actually pulling out the plants. 

“Everyone should be growing plants, everybody should be doing it, all the kohanga reo, kindergartens. They should do it for our children.”

Avondale Kindergarten has grown their Sunflower to over 3 meters tall in less than 3 months. Source / File

Daltons, who runs the project, kindly donate the potting mix and sunflower seeds to the 248 kindergartens participating, nation wide.

Each of the 11 regions will have 2 winners, judging the height, and the width of the head of the Sunflower. 

“They're (Daltons) are really interested in giving back to the community and helping children, some of whom might not otherwise have the opportunity to understand the joys of gardening,” says Lisa Powlesland, team member from Daltons. 

One of the children, 'measuring' their success. Source / File 

Each kindy is given a special measuring tape to track the progress of their sunflowers, which they started growing in August.

For one of the teachers and gardening enthusiasts, Tracey Mackay, she sees the benefits for the children go beyond gardening itself. 

“You gotta have good soil to grow good plants and that kind of ripples out to life as well, you gotta have a good foundation. Mindfulness, empathy, kindness, as well as the usual things, lie numeracy and literacy.” 

The winners were announced this afternoon.