Whānau Manaaki Kindergartens is one of the largest providers in the New Zealand early childhood sector. The annual staff conference was held at Te Papa in Wellington where they invited keynote speakers with a Māori lens to give perspectives on the Māori world view in early childhood education.
General Manager for Wellbeing at Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Hana O'Regan is was invited to speak at the conference.
She says, “It's time they accommodate the number of our Māori children under their care."
Whānau Manaaki is a not-for-profit organisation supporting 85 kindergartens from Wellington to Horowhenua.
Māori Cultural Advisor for Whānau Manaaki, Matiu Te Huki (Ngāti Kahungunu, Rangitāne ki Wairarapa) says, “He Whānau Manaaki o Tararua really want to learn the Māori languages and value based systems from the managers to all the staff there is a real desire amongst this family to grow.”
More than 5000 children now attend one of Whānau Manaaki's 85 kindergartens and 20% are Māori.
Te Huki says, “There are 1000 Māori in these kindergartens of this region but we want all the children to learn about Māori things to strengthen aspects of Māoridom in this country.”
O'Regan says, “They've taken the challenge to embark on this journey to help the Māori side of these Māori children.”
The name Whānau Manaaki was developed in association with Sir Tamati and Lady Tilly Reedy, who both have a long association with early childhood education, including involvement in the development of the early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki.
O’Regan says, “To elevate the validity, status and prestige of the Māori worldview, the Māori child and their Māori world within those kindergartens.”