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Home arrow Education arrow Early Childhood Education in Aotearoa New Zealand: History, Pedagogy, and Liberation

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Curriculum implications

Te Whariki (Ministry of Education, 1996) has failed to make a difference with respect to Maori language advancement in the whitestream of early years’ education. One only has to go into centers throughout New Zealand to witness that and read the Education Review Office1 reports. It is touted as being New Zealand’s first bicultural curriculum document. The Foreword written by the Acting Secretary for Education, Lyall Perris, states:

This is the first bicultural curriculum statement developed in New Zealand. It contains curriculum specifically for Maori immersion services in early childhood education and establishes, throughout the document as a whole, the bicultural nature of curriculum for all early childhood services. (p. 7)

Yet the relationship between biculturalism and bilingualism is not grappled with, and nor are the implications for teaching and learning in a bicultural context. There has been scant professional development facilitating teacher access to the Maori text in Te Whdriki, many believing the Maori text is a translation of the English text. It is not. From an Indigenous Maori perspective, Te Whdriki is still in an immature state, still in the nest. It has not yet begun to flex its wings.

Section 7(a) of The Maori Language Act, 1987 directed Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori to pursue strategies designed to give effect to the declaration of te reo Maori as an (the) official language (Waite, 1992). The ultimate goal of such policy was equal status to both te reo Maori and English at the official level. Therefore, Maori is an official language de jure (according to law, by right, legally) and English is an official language de facto (existing in fact whether officially recognized or not). Aotearoa is thus a bilingual country (officially) and all efforts should proceed toward promoting its bilingualism and biculturalism (Waite, 1992; The Royal Society of New Zealand, 2013). However, in practice, in whitestream educational settings, it is the de facto English language that is the default setting and the language of provision, in spite of the stated intentions of Te Whdriki to establish the first ever bicultural curriculum.

 
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