Pennie Brownlee comes to Tauranga – to play and explore boss-ness

pen brownlee best of oct 2016-25

In October 2015 wild & grace once again brought the fabulous Pennie Brownlee (grandmother, mother, ex-playcentre mum, ex-primary school teacher, author of “Magic Places”,”Dance with me in the Heart“, and the beautiful and provocative facebook page Dance with me in the Heart).

It was the 3rd season of a wild & grace + Pennie Brownlee collaboration and it was abundantly magic.

With the largest list of enrolments complete with a cancellation list the Friday & Saturday courses were a beautiful and rare chance to be with like-hearted people (passionate about educaring and BEing WITH our tamariki), to play, to consider the nature of will (ours and our children’s), and to share, laugh, learn and love.

pen brownlee best of oct 2016-35I continue to deeply appreciate Pennie’s skills, wisdom and generosity. I see her as a taonga. A great teacher. We have yearly skype chats (to prepare for the workshops) where she fills me up with a booklist of extraordinary people giving extraordinary ideas and techniques for a lifetime.

Some of these have been: Emmi Pikler, Marshall B Rosenberg, Bill Plotkin, Joseph Chilton Pearse, Masaru Emoto, Louise Hay, Mellen-Thomas Benedict, Alfie Kohn, Sue Gerhardt, and Laurens van der Post.

(Mostly as a reminder to myself) her daughter Claire is responsible for South-East London’s Nature Play and curates The Pikler Collection to boot.

Whilst we’re on the subject of children learning through play in nature, Natasha Mitchell and Tamra Bell (two Playcentre Mums) are about to launch Forest Fridays in Tauranga – a weekly kind of nature play group that aims to get kids exploring in the great outdoors . The concept was born out of their love of being in the outdoors, with or without their children. It is inspired by the forest school/forest kindergarten/nature school movement, which was first developed in Scandinavia before spreading across the United Kingdom, Europe and America, and now to New Zealand. You can visit their facebook page and ask to ‘join’ if it sounds a bit of you.

pen brownlee best of oct 2016-11Over the two days we ate atop Ohauiti Hill round a horseshoed table:
* Ripe Cafe’s ‘Raw Energy Salad‘ (with carrot and beetroot).
* Rocket, roasted walnut, blue cheese and pear salad
* Alison Holst’s Rice Salad
* Roast Kumara & Feta salad
* Asian Slaw with Cashew Nuts
* Roasted Asparagus
* Ciabatta Buns with Butter
* Waiheke Herb Spread

Mucho aroha to Amy Board and Angela Trillo for your energy and loving contributions to te kai.

pen brownlee best of oct 2016-8The meal was created to have dairy free, gluten free options and to bring us as one to share fresh homemade salads celebrating the slow food movement and highlighting a refined sugar free alternative.

They were a moving 2 days. Go here for a ‘snapshot’.

Personal highlights were blowing bubbles with pink and white soap, pink buckets and smiling ‘playmates’. Experiencing the beautiful natural ‘objects’ and becoming one with ‘my’ smooth white oblong rock (so much so i needed to negotiate with Pennie its rehoming with me). Reading this extensive list from a handout of “Some of the Urges that spontaneously Express through Babies’ and Children’s Play”:
Huts (enclosure)
Throwing (trajectory)
Patterning and ordering
Digging and burying
Tug of war
Tumbling and wrestling
Running and chasey
Playing with water
Playing with fire

pen brownlee best of oct 2016-22This list continues to fill me with awe.

It’s a list i could write up on our kitchen’s blackboard.
It’s a list i could share with my fellow Playcentre compatriots.
It’s a list i could share with my sisters and their babies (here now and to come).

It’s a goodie.

I’m planning a wee post about children and their innate desire to spin. It may even feature our adorable second born who so beautifully articulated it within her play the days following Pennie’s ‘Play’ workshop (without me uttering a word i hasten to add).
Pennie pointed this rotational ‘phenomenon’ out.
She reminded us of the spinning systems in our lives.
Our earth.
Our moon.
Water going down the drain.
The last two were donated by my husband on the couch – ‘depending on which hemisphere you’re in, dictates which way the water goes’.
She reminded us of the songs we love to dance and sing to:
Ring a ring a rosie.
Round and round the mulberry bush.
The forces we love to *uck with:
Spinning round and round till one loses balance and falls over.
Spinning round the washing pole.
Swinging round a lamp-post.

On that note i shall sign out with the lyrics to Paul Simon’s delightful song, which is fitting as Pennie begins her workshops with sharing breath and song.


Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy
Ba da da da da da da, feelin’ groovy

Hello, lamppost, what’cha knowin’?
I’ve come to watch your flowers growin’
Ain’t’cha got no rhymes for me?
Doot-in doo-doo, feelin’ groovy
Ba da da da da da da, feelin’ groovy

I got no deeds to do
No promises to keep
I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me
Life, I love you
All is groovy

Thank you Pennie Brownlee for all that you BE and give.


  1. Thanks for the “report” following the wonderful happenings of the workshops. There is so much arohanui in your words. Being one of your Playcentre compatriots I would love to see those words posted as gentle reminders of spontaneous play.

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