Honouring a living treaty through bicultural teaching

Honouring a living treaty through bicultural teaching

New Zealand’s early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki, affirms that all tamariki have the opportunity to develop an understanding and knowledge of New Zealand’s bicultural heritage.

NZTC’s Bachelor of Teaching (ECE) Program Leader, Trish Thomas, shares the importance of kaiako integrating this treaty-based curriculum from the early years.

“As teachers, we are Treaty partners representing the government established over 180 years ago. To authentically honour the Treaty agreement with its intended spirit, is both our responsibility and our privilege.”

Thomas says New Zealand’s founding document, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, must be embraced as a living treaty in early childhood education.

“Understanding our past is essential in forming our future, and in ECE we have an important role to play in addressing the injustices and inequalities experienced by Māori communities both in our past and still today.”

Kaiako can honour the Treaty through their teaching practice by language planning, expanding Māori cultural knowledge, reading and engaging with Aotearoa history, and connecting with local people and places.

“My advice to early childhood professionals is to value the people, resources, and professional development opportunities available to learn about Māori cultural values, traditions and practices, and thoughtfully integrate these understandings throughout your centre policies, routines, ritual and curriculum practices,” says Thomas.

As an educational provider, NZTC recognises its role as a Treaty partner and is committed to raising up the next generation of early childhood kaiako through comprehensive teaching programs that honour Māori as tangata whenua. Our Kaiārahi - Teaching and Learning Support, help guide our students on their te reo Māori and te ao Māori learning journey.

For Bachelor of Teaching (ECE) graduate, Justine Merrylees, making a commitment to speak te reo Māori with all tamariki and families, along with sharing Māori cultural values, helps support everyone’s learning journey.

“I think it’s important to demonstrate our commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi through learning te reo Māori and seeking a partnership with families. Learning about the Māori gods like Papatūānuku, can also inform us about important and very relevant values such as kaitiakitanga. It connects our practice with knowledge of the past and why caring for the whenua is so important.

“I also think it’s important to demonstrate cultural values and principles by showing manaakitanga. Being welcoming, respectful and caring, also supports us to engage collaboratively with whānau, demonstrating whanaungatanga with our families.”