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Decision time . . . Mataura Playcentre Playgroup children (back from left) Isa-Rae Rooijackers (2), Braylon Kaui, Bailee Hope, Jessica Bastiaansen-Gutsell (all 3), (front from left) Payson Kaui (11 months), Ella Hope (1) and Mason Hope (2) gather outside the Playcentre Aotearoa building where children have taken part in preschool learning activities for more than 50 years. The future of the playgroup will be discussed at a community meeting tomorrow night. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

The future of the Mataura Playcentre Playgroup which meets in the Playcentre Aotearoa building is uncertain.

A community meeting to discuss options will held at the building in Dover St tomorrow night at 7.30pm.

The playcentre went into recess in 2009 but not long afterwards a playgroup affiliated to Playcentre Aotearoa began.

Spokeswoman Amy-Rae Rooijackers said there were three questions facing the playgroup.

“One, are we going to become a playcentre?

“Two, are we going to be a playgroup and lease the building from the playcentre federation or are we just saying goodbye to it all?” Mrs Rooijackers said.

However, there were changes afoot because the national group had changed its policy about playgroups, she said.

“You’ve either got to become a playcentre or if you are a playgroup we can’t be under their banner any more.”

The building belonged to Playcentre Aotearoa.

It was a big commitment to become a licensed playcentre, she said.

“We have to have five parents in training [and] we have to have numbers of kids which we don’t have.”

“[It has been estimated] $50,000 has to go into this building to get it up to standard to run as a playcentre.

“Then we would have to apply for a relicensing fee.”

If the playgroup decided to rent the building off Playcentre Aotearoa it would be responsible for the upkeep of the building.

It would also need to provide its own equipment because at present the chattels in the building belonged to Playcentre Aotearoa.

“Pretty much we would just have the building.”

At present about five families belonged to the playgroup.

The playcentre began in 1957, based at the Mataura Presbyterian Church.

It moved briefly to the Oddfellows Hall and then to its present site in Dover St in 1967.

In 2007 the playcentre celebrated its 50th birthday.

Mataura woman Nicky Coats said her children had attended the playcentre.

“I’d be sad to see it go after the many years I attended with my three kids,” Mrs Coats said.

“My boy’s 12 now and that’s how I met a lot of Mataura people.”

Playcentre Aotearoa national communications manager Claire Gullidge said playgroups received less Ministry of Education funding than playcentres and did not pay.

Costs of playgroups and playcentres including staff, public relations, property maintenance and insurance were all covered by the national body which levied licensed playcentres.

“Playgroups are excluded so playcentres are currently subsidising playgroups,” Mrs Gullidge said.

The national body needed to use the funding it had wisely.

“Where there are other licensed playcentres in close proximity, there are two playcentres within a 15-minute drive of Mataura Playcentre, it may not be viable for us to support a playgroup as well.

“However, if there is strong community support to move the centre to a licensed status, along with information that shows likely viability, we would provide support and encourage the centre to achieve that goal.”

If a playcentre did close what happened to the buildings and land would be assessed on a case-by-case basis, she said.