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Māori and Pacific traditional caregiving practices: Voices from the community

Increasing numbers of Māori and Pacific infants are enrolled in early childhood services in Aotearoa/New Zealand. This phenomenon is part of a larger societal trend in which mother return to the workforce within months of their infant’s birth. This development has significant impacts on early childhood service provision, particularly in relation to addressing the cultural needs of infants. A major concern is that Māori and Pacific infants are at risk of cultural deprivation within these services. According to the research reported in this chapter, there is a call within Māori and Pacific communities for Māori and Pacific infants to be raised in culturally responsive ways in early childhood services children’s home language, culture and identity are promoted and maintained. In Aotearoa/ New Zelanad, infant caregiving theory is largely based on Western European theory and principles that promote individualism and independence, and this will be elaborated upon in the chapter. This chapter outlines findings from a nationwide Aotearoa/ New Zealand online survey conducted with Māori and Polynesian Pacific “language nest” teachers on traditional cultural practices for Māori and Polynesian infants. The language nest philosophies and programmes promote culture, language and traditional practices. Respondents expressed the desire for autonomy in providing culturally authentic caregiving practices, and frustration with educational theory and government policies that did not align, or ran contrary to, modern cultural practice. Research findings revealed Māori and Polynesian Pacific traditional cultural values, beliefs and practices, and from this common base is an emerging Polynesian theoretical model of infant caregiving practices. It is anticipated that a Polynesian theory of infant caregiving will guide Aotearoa/ New Zealand’s early childhood education services and government policy, ensuring culturally responsive practices for Māori and Polynesian Pacific infants and their families.
Chapter in Book
Type of thesis
Glasgow, A., & Rameka, L. K. (2016). Māori and Pacific traditional caregiving practices: Voices from the community. In R. Toumu’a, K. Sanga, & S. J. Fua (Eds.), Weaving Education Theory and Practice in Oceania: Selected papers from the second Vaka Pasifiki Education Conference (pp. 74–86).
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