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In terms of early childhood education, just as in 2020, there was a significant demand and a wait list to attend the local kindergarten.

"It’s got quite a big waiting list, but that does from three months up to five years."
"There’s just the one these days. Gone from three, three busy kindys."
"There’s also a playgroup as well which runs once a week, but the trend, probably, since COVID, is that families are struggling to re-engage. It may be just with the cycle that there aren't the families out there, but I don't think that's the issue. It might be because of winter."

A challenge for the school and kindergarten was in responding to fluctuating demand, and subsequently sometimes families could not access child care when they needed to work.

"Our school and kindy has got the constant challenge of family’s come, family’s gone. So, it’s not like this constant numbers, especially for our kindy. One year there are young families with children so they might be able to respond to put another teacher on but end of that year they're gone. So it's difficult to anticipate who, what, who is away. If your child is under two, I think that if you're moving here and your child is under that age, then you can't get childcare and you can't work. So I know families who haven't been, one of them hasn't been able to go to work until they can get child care and that puts additional pressure on."
"On the civilian side, you have to get on the waiting list and then if a new posting comes in then you get pushed to the bottom by NZDF. In theory it's not supposed to be. When that happened to (redacted, personal name) I was losing it. They're not NZDF funded!"

Participants thought that the local primary school in Waiouru had about 100 children in attendance.

"We’ve gone from having 1500 kids in our community to a school that gets excited when they get over 100 kids."

The primary school was well regarded, and staffing issues were considered their key challenge. Intermittent school closures due to teacher unavailability was noted:

"My daughter and her husband are rapt with the school. It’s a wonderful facility."
"Staffing, that would be the big one. Attracting, getting the balance of teachers who have got lots of experience and those who are new. I think we tend to have those who are new and haven't got the experience. I guess keeping them here, especially the new ones."
"Most of the staff live out of town so when the roads close there's no school. And not just snow days, it's if there's ice, accidents. All those things, the school is closed."

Whilst most children in Waiouru attended Waiouru Primary School, some went to Taihape Area School for a variety of reasons, including better availability of children’s sporting options:

"There are a few kids that do travel down to Taihape too. To the area school. You get that in any community. Some aren't happy with the school."
"With the Taihape Area School for the primary school aged kids it's sports. Sports teams that the kids can't participate in. There's none here, though they've just started the rugby here recently but there's really no competition for that age in the area. You'd have to drive to Whanganui for that age for the five and six year olds rugby, you know?"
"They have tried a few times to start up the kid's netball, but there’s never enough kids. "

For their high schooling, local children attended Ruapehu College or Taihape Area School, and a bus was available to take high schoolers to both these schools. Fewer went to boarding schools.

"More to Rock. Some do a few years at Rock then go to boarding school for sports."
"It depends on the family and finances. Not everyone can afford it."
"I know families who are posted here with children that age who would prefer not to come because you’re limited with your educational choices. But in saying that when they post out, the reports (about the high schools) are usually pretty favourable."

Once Waiouru teenagers finished high school there was no common or usual path into work or further education.

"It’s a mixture just like anywhere else."
"Some enlist, yeah."

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