Small NZ town - big problem solvers
03 Jun 2009
The small rural town of Kimbolton - in the North Island’s Manawatu region - is little known to many Kiwis let alone the international community, but by using their brains, some local school children have put their home and New Zealand firmly on the world map.
The group of eight Kimbolton school children have won themselves the prestigious title of being the best junior problem solvers in the world, having won the International Junior Community Problem Solving Challenge competition in the US this week.
The team of 11- and 12-year-olds won a chance to compete in the world competition after out-performing much bigger schools in the 2008 NZ National Community Problem Solving Challenge.
Their problem-solving challenge was to restore Kimbolton’s historic library, known as one of the most appealing library buildings in New Zealand.
That gave them five months to solve their biggest problem - how to raise enough money to get to the international competition at Michigan State University in America.
Just two months out from the trip, it seemed unlikely the students would be able to make the journey after a number of grants were denied.
But Kimbolton School’s enrichment teacher and team coach Anwyl Minnaar wouldn’t give up. She said she was a great believer in the opportunity and felt it would give the children confidence and maturity.
"Travelling is education, you can’t experience it just by reading a book," she said.
The children spent every spare moment mowing lawns, washing dishes, working on local farms and organising events like a casino night, quiz evening, farm tours and a cricket memorabilia sale.
Small village generosity
Despite Kimbolton only having 99 ratepayers, the small village showed huge generosity and with the school pupils’ keen problem-solving skills they managed to raise NZ$56,000.
School principal Linda Campbell said the library project was part of the school’s Community Problem Solving Programme, and the result of pupils identifying a particular need in the community.
The restoration project included mending and painting the library’s picket fence, clearing the entrance path, fixing paving on the verandah, water blasting the roof and walls and removing a wasp nest.
Further plans that involve reviving the building’s interior and lifting the library’s profile will be supported by the Manawatu District Council.
The library operates in one of Kimbolton’s oldest buildings - a cottage gifted to the Kiwitea County Council Library Committee by Rev J F Mayo about 70 years ago. It currently opens on Tuesday mornings.
One of Manawatu’s most picturesque rural townships, Kimbolton is renowned for its porous, fertile soil.
Originally called Birmingham, the name was changed in 1899 when mail was found to have ended up in the United Kingdom.
On a clear day it’s possible to get views of the South Island from the township. Kimbolton is renowned for its world class rhododendron gardens - Cross Hills Gardens and Heritage Park.
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