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THE WELLINGTONIAN, MARCH 15, 2012
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Early childhood pioneer turns 90
Life lessons: Marie Bell has decades of early childhood education behind her.
Photo: TALIA CARLISLE
By TALIA CARLISLE
Marie Bell, who has just turned
90, believes you're never too old to
Having devoted her life to early
childhood education, she com-
pleted her PhD on the
achievements of Parents Centre
when she was 82.
Parents Centre was started by
Quentin and Helen Brew in 1952.
They provided education for
pregnant couples at a time when
doctors did not believe parents
should know about childbirth,
Miss Bell said.
They were pioneers in the
world. In those days, when you
sery, [with] mothers only allowed
to see them at feeding time.''
submissions to Parliament to
allow parents to see their children
while in hospital.
They also wanted parents to be
allowed into surgeries, so children
would be less upset.
Miss Bell attended Wellington
East Girls' College from 1934 to
She was one of two students
who completed seventh form (or
6A as it was called).
After she left, she studied at
Victoria University and Welling-
ton Teachers' College, where she
met her first husband, Paetahi
The pair were part of the Ngati
Poneke club, a group for young
Maori who had come to the city
before and after the war.
[It was] founded to keep their
culture alive,'' she said. It was
the first of its kind and it's still
going in Thorndon.''
They had their first child, John,
in 1944, but eight months later
Paetahi died in the Maori bat-
talion in Faenza, Italy.
Miss Bell kept busy teaching in
Whanganui and in Wellington.
Four years later, she headed to
Europe with John and her mother,
Marcia. She learnt how to be a
teachers' college lecturer at
She said there was a need for
lecturers at teachers' college
because of the increased number
of children after the war.
They kept three places on the
course for the Commonwealth and
I was lucky to get one,'' she said.
Back in New Zealand, Miss Bell
lectured, remarried and had a
daughter, Kathrine, in 1958.
While bringing up Kathrine, she
lectured part-time at Parents Cen-
tre, Playcentre and the Wellington
Kindergarten Training College.
During that time she also led a
group of parents to set up
Matauranga school in Wellington.
The school was for children aged
four to 13.
Miss Bell supervised training,
which included 20 lectures, three
assignments and practical work.
Parents worked in the school
and took turns teaching ukulele,
cooking, weaving and anything
else they were good at.
She worked for the Department
of Education from 1974 until she
was forced to retire at 60, but con-
tinued her work with Parents
Centre until 1988.
She went on to chair the Dis-
trict Health Board steering com-
mittee, and was also a govern-
ment representative on the
Victoria University Council.
Having spent most of her life
involved with Parents Centre, she
decided to do her PhD on its orig-
inal principles. Not many people
her age embark on a PhD.
While working on her thesis,
Miss Bell had an opportunity to
revisit the people who had made a
difference through Parents Centre
many years previously.
It really affirmed that what we
stood for and what we worked
hard for was still relevant.''
In a special celebration last
month, more than 100 people
gathered to mark her birthday
and her contribution to early
Miss Bell said that since she
had completed her PhD, more
women had been inspired to
A lot of people said they
thought I had made a difference,''
she said. But all the reading and
writing actually made a difference
to me. You learn a lot when you
Now, the news -- again
Current affairs: Jessica Robinson
and Phil Vaughan played news
presenters in Live at Six at Bats in
Newsroom rivalries are moving
out of the television studios and
into the theatre for a second
Live at Six, which shows how
two television networks use the
same footage to create two
vastly different news stories, is
being re-staged at Downstage
The story revolves around a
news presenter who is caught in
a compromising video online. It's
grabbed by two competing news
crews each intent on producing
the best story.
Wellingtonians Dean Hewison
and Leon Wadham produced the
show for Bats in 2009 as part of
the Stab Festival. They have re-
worked the show to include up-
to-date current events and pol-
itical references, as well as the
burgeoning world of social
Live at Six is interactive and
audience members are expected
to play their part, using their
smart phones to shoot action
during the show and upload it
for each news crew to use.
As the story of the reporter,
presenters and executives plays
out on stage, the audience will
also be able to watch network
editors scrambling to cut the
footage to fit
At the end of the show, the
audience sees both versions of
the broadcast story, built with
that night's footage.
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