Supportive messages, morning tea and even donation offers are flooding in for a south Auckland preschool that had its playground stolen in a shocking theft.

On Thursday morning as staff at Small Kauri Early Childhood Education Centre in Māngere Bridge went outside to prepare the play area they found half of it was missing.

A 3m-long green slide had been ripped out of the ground, and a climbing wall, two picnic tables and other play equipment is missing.

Preschool owner Linda Petrenko said they had since received "marvellous" support from the community.

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"We have had all kinds of supportive messages coming in, and small things like morning tea brought in for the teachers, and ice-blocks from the local Fresh Choice.

"We had a chat with the children to say these people are coming because they care."

Teacher Krista Scelly with her two children Max, 16 months, and Moss, 5, at the Small Kauri Early Childhood Centre in Māngere Bridge after Thursday's burglary. Photo / Greg Bowker
Teacher Krista Scelly with her two children Max, 16 months, and Moss, 5, at the Small Kauri Early Childhood Centre in Māngere Bridge after Thursday's burglary. Photo / Greg Bowker

They had also received lots of offers of donations to restore the playground and buy new equipment. It was estimated the gear would cost more than $5000 to replace.

Ray White real estate agent Jared Cooksley, who grew up in Māngere Bridge, had offered a $3000 donation.

"We thought instead of giving small presents to each of our clients for Christmas, why not make a donation to the preschool on their behalf?"

Sudima Hotels had also offered a $1000 donation. Hotel manager Ifti Hussain said it was about supporting the community.

"We are in the same community and so want to do the right thing for the community."

However, Petrenko said they had so far not accepted any donations as they were still hopeful the equipment would turn up.

"We feel really reluctant to take any financial kindness if we don't need it. We are also reluctant in using insurance to simply replace it. We are about the learning that goes around any situation.

"The children need to know it is not right when people take things that don't belong to them, and when you do something bad it is possible to make a better decision.

"Our message to those who took the equipment is that we would really like it returned.

"I know Christmas time puts pressure on people, and they might feel they are supposed to do something nice for their children, but the thing is you don't do that by stealing.

"Despite what has happened we still feel fortunate, we have an amazing community, amazing teachers who try their best to do an amazing job."

CCTV footage from the Māngere Bridge village had picked up the vehicle driving down the main road between 6am and 7am yesterday.

"We are just hopeful the equipment will turn up tomorrow."