Te whatu pōkeka (English)

This resource aims to stimulate debate and to encourage people to share their experiences and views on the ideas, suggestions, and practices within it. It is hoped that kaupapa Māori early childhood services will then be able to validate, share, and build on the values, philosophies, and practices related to assessment based on kaupapa Māori.

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Introduction

This resource aims to stimulate debate and to encourage people to share their experiences and views on the ideas, suggestions, and practices within it. It is hoped that kaupapa Māori early childhood services will then be able to validate, share, and build on the values, philosophies, and practices related to assessment based on kaupapa Māori.

This book explores cultural contexts and methods that contribute significantly to nurturing all aspects of children’s growth and development. Rameka (2007) believes that a kaupapa Māori approach to assessment privileges and empowers Māori children and puts the concept of an empowered Māori child at the heart of understandings about learning and assessment. It acknowledges and values Māori children’s cultural capital and celebrates their learning achievements. Durie (2006) argues that celebrating success is important but that it is more important that Māori progress normalises success. Assessment based on kaupapa Māori is a powerful vehicle for the normalisation of success for Māori children and whānau.

The following discussion is the result of a number of meetings, set up by the Ministry of Education in 2003, between Māori professionals providing early childhood education for tamariki Māori and a small working party of writers.

We have named this project “Te Whatu Pōkeka”. A whatu pokeka is a baby blanket made of muka (fibre) from the harakeke (flax) plant. Carefully woven into the inside of the blanket are albatross feathers to provide warmth, comfort, security, and refuge from the elements. The pōkeka takes the shape of the child as it learns and grows. It is a metaphor for this project, the development of a curriculum that is determined and shaped by the child.

Our principal focus in this project is the assessment of Māori children in a Māori early childhood setting. We want to ensure that the culture and the voices of the children are heard throughout, rather than those of the adults or the organisations. We also want to ensure that the identity of the Māori child is not marginalised during the course of their experiences from birth to adulthood. Tikanga Māori and Māori history and language are key elements of the overarching philosophy, theories, and processes of the Kaupapa Māori Learning and Assessment Exemplar Project.

The information contained in this document is based in te ao Māori. Broad Māori concepts and perspectives are discussed to provide an understanding of the insights and ideas that inform the philosophy of Te Whatu Pōkeka. These perspectives are then drawn through to the exemplars included in this project.

  • The structure and content of this document
    • The first part of this document establishes the kaupapa or philosophy of Te Whatu Pōkeka through a well-known tauparapara. The tauparapara describes phases of consciousness and is considered to be an expression of whakapapa that links specifically to the wholeness and connectedness of the Māori child. The ideas and processes that emerge from the tauparapara are articulated to make clear associations to concepts about growing and learning.

      The key ideas drawn from the tauparapara suggest a view of Māori children who, in their journey through to conception, are adorned with their own mana (potential and spiritual power); mauri (living essence), and wairua (spiritual self), inherited from their ancestors, from the spirit world of atua. The values and beliefs of tikanga Māori, including concepts such as manaaki (to nurture), aroha (to respect), awhi (to embrace), tautoko (to support), and tiaki (to care for), underpin all activities.

      This part also draws on the key concept of tikanga whakaako or teaching and learning within a Māori context, where tikanga Māori are the basis for all learning contexts. There are links to the Māori principles of Te Whāriki and to assessment based on kaupapa Māori concepts. The roles adults play in the learning and teaching of Māori children are also described.

      This section includes excerpts from documentation recorded by the project co-ordinators and kaimahi of centres that are part of this project. These provide examples and links between the centres’ philosophy, practices, and kaimahi reflections.

      The second part of this document focuses on the journeys of the early childhood services that participated in this project. Discussions about these journeys highlight important aspects of the centres’ development as they participated in, and progressed throughout the project. This part also includes the exemplars or examples chosen by each centre. Centres chose these exemplars to highlight their assessment philosophy and processes. A framework for linking the concepts of the tauparapara to these exemplars is included.