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Playcentre Campaigner and Association Manager (Laine Barker's story)

bios - Laine© ChildForum


Laine is a parent who spearheaded a hugely successful campaign in Canterbury in 2011 to get the Education Minister (and Prime Minister!) to promise not to cut funding to Playcentres.

She has been the Chairperson of the Canterbury Playcentre Association and a member of the organisation since the mid 1980s.


What was your early life like? 

I was the oldest of three children and was brought up with a huge sense of family. Ours was a traditional upbringing with mum staying home and dad working. We went to church, attended Sunday school, belonged to the Brownies and had a very strong sense of belonging. My parents and grandparents were all from the same small rural village. We lived out of the garden and had a steady supply of homemade baking, jams and pickles. Mum knitted all of our jerseys while dad worked full-time. We moved from England to New Zealand in 1972, and my parents bought a country store to enable them to meet new people and be part of a community. We went to pony club, guides, scouts, table tennis, badminton and enjoyed a lot of freedom in our small rural village in Banks Peninsular. We fished, swam and joined the local acting troop, which I loved, and hoped to make a career out of. My parents were not rich but I know they made sacrifices to ensure that we didn’t go without. The community groups in those days cost very little if anything to belong to, so it was a bit different to how things work today. I left school with a couple of ‘school certificate’ passes and began working at a building society in town. Mum and dad said I could leave school if I got a job, so for me any job would do. I applied for a heap over a couple of weeks and this one came up first. 

At 17, I found myself pregnant with my oldest son (Chris), and despite my parents being acutely embarrassed by the fact they had an unmarried daughter who was going to have an illegitimate child, they didn’t insist like so many parents of the day that I adopt him out. There was never ever any doubt in my mind that I would raise my child myself.

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