The politics of indigeneity: Partnerships with Maori families in New Zealand early childhood education

Year: 2012

Author: Rau, Cheryl

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Chair: Alex Gunn, University of Otago

In Aotearoa/New Zealand, the 1996 release of 'Te Whariki. He whariki matauranga mo nga mokopuna o Aotearoa: Early childhood curriculum', signalled to the early childhood sector a new beginning, a curriculum based in the 1840 settlement agreement, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, offered the promise of indigenous visibility, validation and inclusion. Maori parent-teacher partnership has previously been articulated through research as a site of tension and discomfort for Maori. This paper prioritises indigenous philosophy, theories and pedagogy in exploring strategies that move beyond troubled spaces existing between teachers, and Maori parents and their children.
This paper draws from two recently completed projects focusing on 'bicultural' pathways in early childhood education in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The research collaborative consisted of co-researchers (teachers, parents, children and teacher educators) from across the early childhood community. The research applied a critical qualitative narrative inquiry approach with educators, teachers, parents and children.
Indigenous cultural conceptualisations when affirmed and enacted have potentiality to move distant relationships to positions. When values and beliefs are noticed, recognised and responded to by teachers, Maori parents and children will actively engage in the early childhood centre programme. In Aotearoa/New Zealand indigenous rights to pursue education are recognised both in Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Te Whariki (our early childhood curriculum). These projects have illuminated pathways to progress this implementation in alignment with these expectations for cultural validation of the Indigenous Maori within mainstream early childhood settings.

The findings of these research projects highlight the variance of cultural connectedness, the gaps between, sites of re-negotiation and redefined spaces for partnerships with indigenous parents in some early childhood settings in Aotearoa/New Zealand.