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

Attaining and maintaining momentum

Providers of initial teacher education are potential sites of transformation, in the possibilities that they afford their students to understand the importance of their role as cultural workers (Freire, 2005) in service of social and cultural justice praxis (Freire, 1972). Integral to this process is to generate within their graduates an understanding of the history of colonization in this country, which has necessitated the current situation of an imperative for pedagogical redress (Ritchie, 2002), most critically and recently expressed in the need to shift from a “deficit” to a capability orientation (New Zealand Ministry of Education, 2013). Rather than treating all children “the same” (Education Review Office, 2008; Simon, 1996), that is, producing pedagogy dominated by a middle-class Pakeha (of European ancestry) perspective, graduates need to be prepared to act as agents of transformation within ECCE centers where management and staff are comfortable with monocultural Western approaches and lack the commitment and knowledge required to implement the kaupapa Maori (Maori philosophy) expectations contained within Te Whariki and in other Ministry of Education documents. Ongoing support and professional learning for both beginning teachers and their mentors is crucial to obtaining and maintaining these professional commitments, particularly in teaching settings that are unsupportive of these philosophies (Aitken, Piggot-Irvine, Bruce Ferguson, McGrath, & Ritchie, 2008; Piggot-Irvine, Aitken, Ritchie, Bruce Ferguson, & McGrath, 2009). The New Zealand Teachers Council has recently been reviewed, and it will be interesting to see if the outcome of the review produces enhancements of these dual functions with regard to strengthening kaupapa Maori provision within “whitestream” education settings.

This chapter has provided an overview of documents produced by the Ministry of Education subsequent to Te Whariki, and has argued that despite dedicated sections focused on commitments pertaining to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, selective uptake of the documents’ contents has meant that te ao Maori conceptualizations remain marginalized in many centers. The next chapter draws upon recent research to illustrate some ways in which early childhood educators are demonstrating commitment to aspirations of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Te Whariki, in relation to pedagogies resonant with te ao Maori ways of being, knowing, and doing.

E kore au e ngaro he kakano i ruia mai i Rangiatea

This whakatauki refers to the original seed from Rangiatea, the spiritual homeland for Maori, stating that this seed will not be lost. It thus asserts both continuity and resilience, and implies that for Maori, their language and culture are the sustenance of this resilience (Grace & Grace, 2003, p. 29).

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