Gold diggers... Poupoutunoa Kindergarten head teacher Rose Perry and pupil Ezra Watt (3) dig for treasure in the sandpit. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Five kindergartens opened nationwide in the past year but only one is housed in a former bowling club and located in a small rural town.

The Poupoutunoa Kindergarten opened its doors in Clinton on the site of the town’s former bowling club at the start of the fourth term.

The $800,000 project to transform the bowling club facilities into an early childhood learning centre has been overseen by South Otago Kindergarten Association senior teacher Gill Crawford and office manager Alethea Solomon.

Mrs Crawford said opening a kindergarten in the small town is “pretty amazing”.

“Numbers of kindergartens throughout New Zealand have been in decline over the last few years because education care centres have been increasing while kindergartens have been decreasing,”

It was a great asset for the town.

“Very small towns like Clinton don’t get the opportunity to have a brand new centre.”

The last census showed there were children in the area who were not attending a preschool facility.

“That’s why we were supported in being able to deliver such a great service to that community.”

The Ministry of Education provided $591,000 and other groups, including the Otago Community Trust, also helped.

The bowling club reduced the asking price for the facility.

“They were really supportive of it going to be a community project.”

Clinton Lions Club helped with carting soil and community members gave plants.bridge mediaMens Nike Sneakers