Children spending lockdown at a Whangārei holiday park have still been able to attend school thanks to the creativity of the park's managers, community and a teacher.

Well, sort of.

It might not be what they're used to, but a cabin at Whangārei Central Holiday Park in Morningside has been transformed into a classroom where one of the park's residents, Monique Cassidy - a teacher in Whangārei Intermediate's bilingual unit Te Whānau o Waimirirangi - has been holding lessons for children staying at the park.

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Cassidy said she has a daughter who has special needs so was trying to find ways she could teach her, on top of doing distance learning with her own classroom.

"When we went into lockdown we've got four other children in the campsite and we've all stuck in a bubble - a big whānau base. I was sort of watching the kids and thought 'well I could take on these children and set up a classroom if it was possible and get them doing class work as well'," she said.

So Cassidy approached the managers of the park, Fiona and John Rudsdale, and they were "more than happy" to donate a cabin for Cassidy to use as a classroom.

"They pulled all the furniture out, they cleaned everything for me and then we put the furniture that I wanted back in. The community gathered around and brought toys in, we've got bean bags here, we've got cushions they can sit on, we've got books and I've been slowly printing out information for them to stick up on the walls."

Cassidy has also ordered a whiteboard.

The students in the classroom - dubbed Monz Monsters Class of 2020 - include Cassidy's 6-year-old daughter, a 7-year-old, and three 4-year-olds.

The day starts about 9am with Cassidy teaching her daughter before the rest of the kids arrive. She sets them up with writing and they go through what the day will look like.

The sign made for the cabin classroom. Photo / Michael Cunningham
The sign made for the cabin classroom. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Then at 10.30am she connects online with her students from Whangārei Intermediate School.


When that's completed she goes through the writing the cabin classroom kids have done, and before lunch they do some dance and exercise.

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Cassidy said it's a juggling act, but they get through it.

"It's actually really rewarding at the same time seeing the kids learning, and they love going to class. I'm very fortunate the managers had given this as a koha to use. It gets the kids out of a small space into another space, and it gives the ones caring for them at the moment some space."

The whānau bubble at the Whangārei Central Holiday Park. Photo / Michael Cunningham
The whānau bubble at the Whangārei Central Holiday Park. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Cassidy said some of the kids at the holiday park were staying with grandparents as their parents are essential workers, others had been on holiday and got stuck there.

She said the community at the holiday park had all been working together to support the kids, and the children's parents or grandparents were loving the cabin school.

"It's going to be quite strange when we come out of lockdown because the kids have gotten quite close over these last few weeks.


"They eat together, they play together so it just made sense to teach them all together." The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website