Titiro Whakamuri, Hoki Whakamua: Respectful Integration of Māori Perspectives Within Early Childhood Environmental Education

Jenny Ritchie

Abstract


The early years are a foundational time for the establishment of dispositions for learning. This paper draws on a recent study in Aotearoa (New Zealand) to illustrate ways educators have been implementing programs, within mainstream early childhood care and education settings, that inclusively offer Māori perspectives on caring for ourselves, others, and the environment. It argues that Indigenous perspectives provide a valid counter-narrative to the dominant Western techno-industrial emphasis that continues to damage our planet. Early childhood care and education settings are ideally situated in their capacity to provide opportunities for children, families, and communities to experience ecologically sustainable practices that are appropriately informed by local Indigenous knowledges. In the study reported here, teachers incorporated Māori cosmological narratives and local legends and applied Māori values in practical ways that demonstrated and modelled caring, sustainable ecological practices.

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