Northpower temporarily expanded its business portfolio into childcare for a day yesterday.

To help support staff during the teachers' strike, the business offered to organise baby-sitters and entertainment at its head office in Whangārei.

Thirty parents, most of them men, took advantage of the gesture, making Northpower a hive of activity.

"We recognise what a juggle parenting can be and it was clear a lot of parents would have to work from home or take the day off so we thought we'd find a solution to help our staff out," said Northpower's customer experience manager, Rachel Wansbone.

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Whangarei Girls' High School year 12 student Jesse Brown helps Lily Brown from Whangarei Primary (left) and Selma Aastroem from Parua Bay School. Photo / John Stone
Whangarei Girls' High School year 12 student Jesse Brown helps Lily Brown from Whangarei Primary (left) and Selma Aastroem from Parua Bay School. Photo / John Stone

"We left it up to the parents give a koha and brought in three students from Whangarei Girls' High School as part of their work-day programme, so the funds collected will go back to the school as a thank you. Our parents really enjoyed working alongside the students," Wansbone said.

The children, who ranged in age from 5 to 13, were given a safety induction before tearing into a fun-filled day.

Jan Thomsen, Northpower's customer adviser, who visits dozens of schools and community groups throughout Kaipara and Whangārei every year demonstrating how to stay safe around electricity, gave an electrical safety demonstration to kick-start the activities.

The children were able to take a tour of the Northpower Depot and Control Room to learn all about what goes into keeping the power on.

Throughout the day they had the choice of hide and seek, a soccer game, arts and crafts, building a solar city and solar helicopter, voting on their favourite movie to watch and creating a large mural.

And to top the day off, Mike the Magician – Tikipunga High School's science technician Mike Easterbrook – treated the children to an action-packed show.

"The atmosphere was great and we believe this model could easily be adopted by other larger Northland businesses in future," Wansbone said.

"We are happy to share our programme with anyone because the koha for childcare concept really worked. It's a great way to support our people and our community."

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