Botanical Gardens core board banner image

Alternative communication at our parks

Wednesday 11 May, 2022

Exciting, colourful new boards have popped up in the Botanical Gardens to pave the way for a more inclusive community.

They’re called core boards/kupu atua and offer our tamariki an alternative way to communicate.

Anyone who communicates non-verbally can point to symbols and words to convey what they want.

The boards each have 60 boxes on them that contain a colour-coded word and symbol. The words are selected from the most frequently used words in everyday conversations. The boards stand at an easy height for children to read and, for the first time nationally, are in both te reo Māori and English.

They include a QR-code, which enables people to scan the code and take an image with them either to print or keep using on their phone.

It’s the first of several core boards that will go up in public parks from Hicks Bay to Gisborne and inland.

Council Liveable Communities acting director De-Arne Sutherland says Council became interested in having core boards in our community after seeing the positive impact a core board had at Riverdale school when it was installed last year. Ministry of Education (MoE) sought approval from Council for core boards to be present in community spaces to support tamariki and adults with disabilities and communication difficulties.

This is an innovative initiative of the MoE Learning Support team, who worked in collaboration with different members of our community, in particular whānau and educators of tamariki who use core boards as part of everyday life. Trust Tairāwhiti funded $10,000 towards the project.

Ms Sutherland says, “we want to ensure there are no barriers to anyone being able to enjoy our public spaces around Tairāwhiti.

“These boards help our young non-verbal tamariki communicate while at the park, which we want all our community to be able to enjoy.”

The one at the Botanical Gardens was paid for by the Friends of the Botanical Gardens, a group of volunteers who formed in 1998. Volunteer Dot McCulloch says they wanted to do something for the children with the funds they had raised.

There will be an official blessing of the Botanical Gardens core board in the next few weeks.

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