Te Whatu Kete Matauranga: Weaving Māori and Pasifika infant and toddler theory and practice in early childhood education

Funding year: 
2 years
University of Waikato
ECE sector
Project start date: 
January 2015
Project end date: 
March 2017
Principal investigator(s): 
Dr. Lesley Rameka
Research team members: 
Ali Glasgow
Research partners: 
Victoria University of Wellington; three Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Early Learning Centres; three EFKS A'oga Amata

Project description

In this project we utilise the metaphor of weaving three kete mātauranga, baskets of knowledge: Māori; Pasifika; and Polynesian. Traditional/contemporary knowledge, theory and practice of infant and toddler education and care will be collected for Māori and Pasifika early childhood services. This will be integrated into a Polynesian kete for mainstream early childhood services.


The research will explore how early childhood services can better integrate culture into teaching practices by creating culturally responsive, infant and toddler teaching and learning theory and practice guidelines. We aim to create new knowledge—theoretical statements about teaching and learning by reclaiming traditional and contemporary Māori and Pasifika knowledge, practices and understandings of the care and education for infants and toddlers and by reframing these understandings for contemporary early childhood services. We will utilise this culturally-grounded rationality as a basis for the development of theory and culturally-embedded practice in Māori and Pasifika early childhood services. Lastly, we will use the findings from our work with Māori and Pasifika services to create theoretical statements which will include theoretical themes, practice guidelines and examples of practice for mainstream early childhood services. The overall aim of the project, therefore, is not only to support culturally-embedded infant and toddler provision in Māori and Pasifika early childhood services, but to provide culturally relevant theory and practice for all early childhood teachers and services.

Why is this research important

Early childhood has an important role in building strong learning foundations to support the development of competent and confident learners. Early childhood services however continue to fail to meet the needs of Māori and Pasifika children including infants and toddlers (ERO 2010). Key to educational success for all children is the acknowledgement that children are culturally located and the recognition that effective education must embrace culture. To date there is a noticeable gap in the literature with regard to Māori and Pasifika perspectives of infant and toddler provision. The aim of this project is to address this gap.

What we plan to do

A case study approach will be utilised in the research. This approach allows for each of the six participating early childhood services to develop their own locally constructed understandings, theory and practices of infant and toddler care and education. In the first phase of the research (2015), each of the services will work with their communities to collect and collate pūrākau/stories about infant and toddler care and education knowledge and practices. These stories will be analysed in terms of how they could be reframed in contemporary early childhood services. The final phase of the research (2016) will involve each case study service utilising an action research cycle to answer their self-identified question/s, which emerged as a result of analysis of the stories from the first phase. The phases of research are:
• reclaiming traditional knowledge and understandings,
• reframing the reclaimed knowledge and understandings in contemporary early childhood contexts, and
• realising the reframed knowledge and understandings in local early childhood contexts.

Our partners

The Māori Kete will be based on a partnership between Waikato University and Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Early Learning Centres. Three services will participate in the research: Ngā Kākano o te Mānuka (Māngere), Whare Āmai (Gisborne) and Raroera Te Puāwai (Hamilton).The Pasifika Kete will be based on a partnership with the Wellington Pasifika community—EFKS Samoan Aoga Amata in Newtown, and Te Punanga Reo Kuki Airani, Berhampore.