This section includes ERO’s findings in relation to the two evaluation questions. It also includes a discussion about the variation of performance identified by service type and what services need to do to improve their provision for Māori children.
To what extent are early childhood services responsive to the aspirations and expectations of the parents and whānau of Māori children?
Many early childhood services have processes to consult and communicate with the families of children who attend the service. However, as shown in Figure 1, only 13 percent were highly responsive to the aspirations of the parents and whānau of Māori children. Twenty-eight percent were responsive but needed to improve aspects of their practice and 59 percent of services were becoming more responsive or were not responsive.Figure 1: Extent to which early childhood services are responsive to the aspirations and expectations of the parents and whānau of Māori children.
he services with 26 percent  or more Māori children on their roll were more likely to be responsive to the aspirations and expectation of parents and whānau than services with fewer Māori children. 
The challenge for services was to understand the need to shift management and educators’ thinking and practice from having processes for all children (and their parents and whānau), to understanding the need to listen and respond to whānau expectations for their children.
Where the aspirations and expectations of the parents and whānau of Māori children were being identified and responded to, services did this through their:
Each of these areas is discussed in relation to ERO’s findings, supported by examples of practice in individual services. A rationale is given for each area, drawn from relevant guiding Ministry of Education publications, in particular Quality in Action: Te Mahi Whai Hua. Questions that could be used as a focus in service’s self review are included.
The written statement of philosophy expresses the fundamental beliefs, vision, values and ideals by which a service chooses to operate. It provides the basis for decisions on how the service is managed and should be reflected in the service’s day-to-day practice.
Where a service’s philosophy reflects Māori values and beliefs, it contributes to the service’s New Zealand identity and to a sense of belonging among Māori children and their whānau.Quality in Action: Te Mahi Whai Hua. (pp. 60 and 62)
In most services, philosophy statements were written for all children, with no specific reference to values and beliefs for Māori children and their whānau. Although ERO found that many services’ philosophy statements referred to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, only a few made specific reference to what this meant in practice or included a specific focus for Māori children.
In services with highly responsive processes, the philosophy was more than words on a piece of paper. It was about how the documented values and beliefs were put into practice on a daily basis. The principles inherent in Te Tiriti o Waitangi were recognised and valued, along with a commitment to working in partnership with whānau. Māori whānau were acknowledged as tangata whenua. Many services included reference to the principles of Te Whāriki in their philosophy statements. Others made reference to concepts and values such as ako and manaakitanga. In a few services, the philosophy was written in both te reo Māori and English.
The philosophy statement is bilingual (written in English and te reo Mâori). It clearly states that “children and their whānau are cared for and respected.” It also affirms staff’s desire to “empower children to develop holistically through their strengths and interests.” Kindergarten
In some services, parents and whānau had been involved in reviewing the philosophy statement through face-to-face meetings, informal discussions and more formal feedback processes such as the use of surveys. Using a variety of ways to involve parents gave them a choice about how they wanted to contribute.
RationaleThe whānau is a vital influence on the development of tamariki Māori. Management and educators can take such an influence into account by consulting extended families where appropriate.
All parents/whānau are empowered when they join with management and educators to develop a shared vision and assume shared responsibility for the learning and development of children. Quality in Action: Te Mahi Whai Hua. (p. 66)
The extent to which the hopes and aspirations of Māori children’s parents and whānau were reflected in services’ vision statements or plans varied considerably. This was not an area of strength, even in some of the highly responsive services.
Some services had begun to explore ways to include Māori concepts, values and perspectives in their long-term or strategic plans. A few were using Ka Hikitia to guide their planning and some found ERO’s report Māori Children in Early Childhood: Pilot Study, July 2008 useful as a discussion starter and in prompting them to seek the views of parents and whānau of Māori children.
The centre had a good response to their consultation with parents about their vision for the centre over the next three years. The subsequent strategic plan includes strategies for building partnerships with iwi, developing a relationship with local Kōhanga Reo, including and consulting with whānau, responding to Ka Hikitia goals regarding transition, and supporting teachers to become more competent in te reo me ngā tikanga Maori. These broad goals are reflected more specifically in the 2009 annual plan. Education and care centre
A few services recognised the need to strengthen relationships with whānau and local iwi as an initial step towards identifying hopes and aspirations for their children. Others had goals that focused on developing or strengthening a bicultural perspective in the services’ curriculum.
RationaleWhānau values and whanaungatanga (relationships) develop within a framework of joint responsibility and accountability. Culturally appropriate service policies and practices will be collaborative and reciprocal and will help to ensure equitable opportunities for all parents and whānau.Services can work towards such policies and practices by:
Quality in Action: Te Mahi Whai Hua. (p.69)
The development of responsive and reciprocal relationships with parents and whānau of Māori children was a strong feature of services that were found to be providing well for Māori children. Teachers understood the importance of relationships and found ways of keeping dialogue open and making time to listen and connect with whānau.Parents and whānau of Māori children participated in meaningful activities that enabled them to contribute as partners in their children’s learning. Managers and educators fostered relationships with parents through informal interactions in a warm and welcoming environment.
Teachers have established responsive and trusting relationships and open communication with parents and whānau of Māori children. The foundation of these relationships is based on a strong sense of whanaungatanga woven through welcoming processes, centre programmes and teaching practices. Teachers encourage whānau to share their whakakapa and discuss their aspirations for their children.Kindergarten
In a few services, management and teachers had made links with local iwi and/or had the support of a kuia or kaumatua to advise management and educators on bicultural practice and to share their knowledge of local history.
The centre has a kuia who comes on a weekly basis and works with the children and teachers. Her involvement has led to strengthened relationships among the centre, Māori parents and the wider community. Education and care centre
In some services, educators worked at developing relationships with all parents, and did not see the need to do anything different for the parents and whānau of Māori children. In a few, relationships were not strong with any parents and this impacted on the extent to which parents and whānau were involved and informed.
Developing and maintaining respectful relationships is crucial for services that want to be more responsive to whānau aspirations and expectations. The relationships between managers, educators, whānau and children are central to an environment that is both responsive to, and focused on, Māori children and their whānau.
RationaleConsultation is the process of gathering information to achieve shared understandings, goals and expectations that will inform decision making.
Māori methods of communication, consultation, and negotiation may differ from those of other groups. To develop an environment that enables all to fully participate, management and educators can:
Quality in Action: Te Mahi Whai Hua. (pp 51-52)
In many services, the strategies used for communication and consultation applied to all parents. No consideration was given to finding out what worked best for whānau. A ‘one size fits all’ approach was taken to communication and consultation.
In services with highly responsive processes, consultation and communication were underpinned by the relationship that managers and educators had with the parents and whānau of Māori children. Consultation worked best when it was based on a mix of informal and formal activities. Some services sought whānau views in a variety of ways. Pre-enrolment processes were important in establishing initial relationships and sharing information. Where services used surveys, it was important to act on the findings rather than just going through the process of gathering information. In one service a survey was designed specifically for the whānau of Māori children.
Teachers visit Māori parents and have a one-to-one consultation with them. These are informal meetings to outline what the centre offers, what else parents would like to see and if there is any way that parents might like to contribute. Teachers record the results of consultation and use these for their future planning. One parent wrote a letter to the teachers in response to their survey. She outlined what she wanted for her child. Kindergarten
One teacher (Mâori) has initiated a process for consultation that includes a survey and personalised interview with each family of Mâori children. There is already an established process for consultation and informal approaches have been in place for some time. Education and care center
Some services used the report of ERO’s 2008 pilot study as a catalyst for discussions between management and educators and with parents and whānau of Māori children. They used it to look at how they could improve consultation to find out about the aspirations and expectations of the parents and whānau of Māori children.
Highly responsive services are more likely to work inclusively with the parents and whānau of Māori children. However, being inclusive is not so much about singling out a parent or whānau member, as about finding ways to include whānau, being open to finding out how they want to express their views and being responsive to those views.
Effective self review involves working in partnership with parents/whānau. Management and educators can work towards a bicultural approach to self review by:
Quality in Action: Te Mahi Whai Hua. (p. 73)
Many services were establishing systems for self review. They were not yet ready to undertake self review that looked specifically at the impact of their programmes for Māori children.
Self review is in the early stages of development, understanding and implementation. There was little evidence of how any self review of policies, objectives and practices directly contributed to improved outcomes for Māori children. Education and care centre
In services that were engaging in self review, the focus was often on evaluating bicultural provision, in particular the use of te reo Māori and practices associated with tikanga. Generally such review did not evaluate the outcomes of programmes and practices for Māori children.
Teachers are reflective practitioners and self review is a well established practice. However review has not specifically identified or evaluated improved outcomes for Māori children. The supervisor/manager and assistant supervisor have recently attended professional development focusing on partnerships with Māori whānau. As a result, the teaching team has begun to discuss and reflect on what whakawhanaungatanga means, how welcoming the centre is to Māori whānau and how to build relationships with local iwi to help it make decisions about the programme in relation to supporting Māori children and their families. Education and care centre
In some services, umbrella associations or organisations responsible for governance and management had developed policies and strategies that reflected the unique place of Māori as tangata whenua and the principle of partnership inherent in Te Tiriti o Waitangi. ERO found that many umbrella groups needed to work with their services to implement the intent of these documents at individual service level.
To what extent are early childhood services focusing on realising the potential of Māori children to become competent and confident learners?
Many services were not implementing practices that supported Māori children as learners. Figure 2 shows that only 16 percent of services in this evaluation were highly focused on realising Māori children’s potential to become competent and confident learners. Twenty-four percent did have a focus on this but had room for improvement and sixty percent were beginning or not yet focused.
Managers and educators in many services need to recognise the importance of acknowledging Māori children’s cultural identity and heritage. Reflecting on, and questioning, their practices in supporting Māori children to experience success as learners is part of this challenge.
Early childhood services focused on realising Māori children’s potential through their:
Each of these areas is discussed in relation to ERO’s findings, supported by examples of practice in individual services. A rationale is given for each area, drawn from relevant guiding Ministry of Education publications, in particular, Te Whāriki: He Whāriki Matauranga mō ngā Mokopuna o Aotearoa (1996), Quality in Action: Te Mahi Whai Hua (1998), and Kei Tua o te Pae Assessment for Learning: Early Childhood Exemplars (2005). Questions that could be used as a focus in self review are included.
For many Māori, quality curriculum implies:
Quality in Action: Te Mahi Whai Hua. (p.64) This is a curriculum for early childhood care and education in New Zealand. In early childhood education settings, all children should be given the opportunity to develop knowledge and an understanding of the cultural heritages of both partners to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The curriculum reflects this partnership in text and structure.Te Whāriki. ( p.9)
The extent to which early childhood services provided a bicultural curriculum varied, and few services genuinely acknowledged Māori perspectives through language and culture. In highly focused services, practices were inclusive and respectful of Māori values and beliefs. Te reo Māori was consistently used in conversations and evident in the environment, in planning documents and in assessment records such as children’s portfolios. Some services had educators who were confident in using te reo Māori and modelled its use for others. Rituals and routines for children incorporated tikanga Māori. Māori children confidently led karakia and waiata in many of these services. Children’s ancestral connections were affirmed and their identity as Māori acknowledged.
Teachers demonstrate a genuine commitment to including a Māori dimension in the kindergarten programme and routines. Te reo Māori is naturally integrated and used by children and teachers. Children are active participants in Māori protocols to welcome visitors and on visits to local schools. They are also developing confidence to say their own mihi for introducing themselves and greeting others. Priority has been given to providing equipment and resources that acknowledge the unique place of Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand. Māori children and whānau are confident that their language and culture are valued, affirmed and respected by teachers, children and other kindergarten families. Kindergarten
Care is taken to place Māori children in homes where their culture will be respected and fostered. The visiting teacher in this network integrates aspects of te reo and tikanga into her practice and works to empower caregivers to increase their knowledge in these areas. Home-based service
In services that were in the process of developing a Māori perspective in their curriculum, educators were using some reo Māori and waiata as part of the programme. Resources that portrayed Māori perspectives, such as puzzles and books, were available to children. Some services were more deliberate about including te reo Māori and cultural values as part of the curriculum. Many of these services had a high reliance on individual educators’ awareness, commitment and understanding of what it meant to implement a bicultural curriculum.
Staff are just beginning to think about ways that their practices can be specifically responsive to Māori families. The centre director understands that this goes beyond using te reo Māori and providing resources. Internal and external professional development is planned for 2009. Education and care centre
In services not focused on supporting Māori children as learners, managers and educators often did not have any understanding of te reo Māori and tikanga and did not have a strong commitment to implementing a bicultural curriculum.
There is no evidence of Māori perspectives in assessment, planning or evaluation. The centre has a few books and puzzles that provide a bicultural dimension to the programme. The supervisor and parents have little understanding of Māori culture and values. They acknowledge that this is an area that needs to improve for them to encourage Māori families to their centre. This point is significant as this is the only early childhood service in the area. Playcentre
The implementation of a strong bicultural curriculum relied on managers and educators understanding and valuing te reo Māori and tikanga in the context of quality early childhood education. Where services were highly focused on supporting Māori children (and their whānau) the inclusion of a Māori perspective as an integral part of the curriculum was crucial.
Educators can extend children’s thinking and introduce other world views by integrating tikanga Māori into the curriculum. They can use te reo Māori, where appropriate, and gain an understanding of Māori pedagogy in order to facilitate young children’s learning.Educators may need to identify appropriate strategies to support children who are reluctant to participate in group activities. They may consider the approach of Māori, who recognise that at times, it may not be appropriate to try to include children whose behaviour indicates whakamā (shyness). Quality in Action: Te Mahi Whai Hua. (pp.29-30)
Teaching strategies used by educators varied in how well they assisted Māori children to become successful learners. A strong feature in the highly focused services was the time educators invested in getting to know individual Māori children and their whānau. Educators spent time building relationships with Māori children (and their whānau) and being interested in their lives, not just while attending the service but also as part of the community in which they lived.
Educators valued what children brought to their learning. They acknowledged children’s prior experiences and had high expectations for them as learners. Services embraced the concept of ako in their practice and worked from the premise that ‘we are all learners and teachers here’. Educators recognised opportunities to foster tuakana/teina relationships between older and younger children.
The teaching team is committed to recognising and respecting the values and beliefs of Māori children’s parents and whānau. Respectful, trusting and inclusive relationships have been developed where families discuss aspirations for their child. Whānau members willingly share aspects of their culture to add richness to, and ensure Māori perspectives are a part of, the planned topics children experience. Practices teachers have incorporated in the daily programme to foster engagement and potential for Māori children include: building a relationship with the local marae and kōhanga reo; developing pride in, and awareness of the significance of, the child’s name; and using the mixed-age groupings to foster tuakana/teina relationships for learning.Kindergarten
Educators followed Māori children’s interests. This often led to connections being made with people in the wider community or visits to local marae or places of significance for Māori in the local community. By focusing on these interests, educators strengthened links with children and their whānau and promoted children’s cultural identity in positive ways.
A recent trip to a local marae enabled some Māori children to experience their culture in an authentic setting. Teachers responded positively to Māori children’s interests in their culture and provided appropriate experiences to foster this. For example a Māori child showed an interest in the haka so a variety of relevant experiences were provided over a period of time enabling him to explore and develop his knowledge about the haka in contexts other than rugby. Education and care centre
A study of Māori artists arose from children’s interest in spirals. This led to a visit to a marae, where children found koru in carvings, which had been pre-photographed for this activity. Children have since followed this interest by looking at the meaning of the koru shape and using many different media to design and display koru. They have found it in nature, and in ferns coming through their fence, and have been encouraged to photograph these as part of their study. Education and care centre
In services less focused on supporting Māori children as learners, educators did not use deliberate teaching strategies. Māori children were viewed as “the same as other children” and teaching strategies and learning experiences often failed to recognise their identity or support them to learn in culturally meaningful and relevant contexts.
There is very limited evidence of practices that recognise or respond to parents’ and whānau aspirations for Māori children or that support their cultural identity and competence. Playcentre
Educators in services that were highly focused on supporting Māori children were willing to step outside their comfort zone and take risks in their teaching. They embraced te reo Māori, tikanga and values and strengthened their own knowledge and skills through their relationships with whānau. The belief that Māori children needed to walk confidently in both Māori and Pākehā worlds underpinned their teaching. Māori children experienced a curriculum that was deeper than that written in documented planning. They were immersed in an environment that acknowledged their cultural identity and provided meaningful and relevant learning experiences.
In order to achieve bicultural assessment practices, it is essential that teachers share a commitment to:
From this relationship, the pathway to development will open. Kei Tua o te Pae Assessment for Learning: Early Childhood Exemplars. Bicultural Assessment Book 3 (p.5).
Assessment practice varied widely across the services in this evaluation. In services that were highly focused on supporting Māori children, assessment information reflected the rich bicultural learning experiences of those children. In many, the enrolment process involved sharing information between whānau and educators. Discussions focused on whānau aspirations for their children, and on their expectations of the service. The information shared gave educators a starting point to document children’s learning, with many weaving whānau expectations through narrative assessments in profiles and portfolios. Many of the focused and highly focused services included, with parents’ agreement, children’s whakapapa in profiles or portfolios.
Narrative assessments in Māori children’s profiles and portfolios included the use of te reo Māori and showed examples of their involvement in learning experiences that contributed to their identity as learners. These included whānau stories and photographs of children’s involvement in their wider whānau and community and were meaningful records of learning for educators, children and whānau.
The philosophy document states that culture and home practices are integral to children’s identity and should be incorporated into the centre. Practices observed showed that this philosophy intent is strongly evident in practice. Teachers use te reo Māori naturally and confidently in their conversations with children and whānau. Wall displays include many cues to support and encourage the use of te reo. Māori terms and concepts are also carefully interwoven through planning and assessment records. Teachers demonstrate sensitive affirmation of the language and culture of Māori children and their whānau in narratives about children’s learning and programme documents. Education and care centre
Teachers use Māori children's cultural context as the basis for assessments of their learning. Children's profiles contain learning stories that incorporate their family/whānau activities and celebrations. The profiles provide important links with home/whānau and the value teachers place on Māori children's culture in the learning programme.Kindergarten
In services beginning to look at their assessment practices for Māori children, educators were finding ways to include Māori perspectives as part of the programme and to have profiles or portfolios reflect children’s learning in meaningful contexts. Some services had no link between documented assessment information and children’s cultural heritage or whānau aspirations.
Some staff use a little reo Māori in the programme. The manager commented that parents, including Māori parents, are involved in the assessment process, but there is little evidence of te reo Māori, tikanga or aspirations in the children’s profile books. Education & care
Assessment information provided a useful window for looking at how the curriculum assisted Māori children to develop as competent and confident learners. Services highly focused on supporting Māori children made visible the learning that contributed to a strong sense of cultural identity for these children and their whānau.
Educators can develop learning goals that acknowledge children’s heritages and support their understanding of their cultural identity. In doing so, they may draw on Māori understandings of children as individuals within their whānau, hāpu and iwi.Management and educators can consult parents/whānau about the process to be used when sharing information and making decisions regarding their children.Quality in Action: Te Mahi Whai Hua. (pp. 31and 57)
Including families and whānau in the early childhood centre’s curriculum and assessment enhances children’s learning. Families enrich the record of learning, reduce some of the uncertainty and ambiguity, and provide a bridge for connecting experiences. Kei Tua o te Pae Assessment for Learning: Early Childhood Exemplars Book 5: Assessment and Learning: Community. (p.118.)
The extent to which parents and whānau of Māori children were involved in genuine partnerships with children’s learning as their focus varied across the services in this evaluation. In the highly focused services, whānau of Māori children had strong relationships with educators and were actively involved in many aspects of the curriculum. Through their relationships, educators built rapport with whānau and got to know their interests and talents.
Māori children’s profiles or portfolios were inclusive of parents and whānau and meaningful for them and their children. Their ‘voices’ were sought and highly visible in records of children’s learning and, in a few services, planning documents. Whānau were involved in setting goals and in discussions about their child’s progress. Opportunities for celebrations, such as observing Matariki, created opportunities for whānau to lead weaving, gardening and poi making activities.
The current focus in the Playcentre is cultivating kai. The centre has celebrated Matariki to acknowledge the new beginnings in terms of planting and as a centre with new management and a new group of parents. They share kai from home and share the fruits of their gardens. Learning profiles encourage parents to identify and talk about their aspirations for their children. The Māori parent at this centre is keen to attend a Māori language course so that she can teach her children and share her learning with parents at the centre. Parents were enthusiastic about her plans to introduce more reo during sessions. Playcentre
Services beginning to seek greater whānau input and involvement gave priority to developing relationships and making profiles or portfolios available for Māori children and their whānau to read and share. Educators found ways to involve whānau in their child’s learning and to seek meaningful contributions from them.
The teaching team is very committed to supporting Māori children, in partnership with whānau, to become successful learners and potentially high achievers. Ka Hikitia inspired the centre manager to survey parents of Māori children to identify ways in which the team could work in partnership with them to improve their children’s educational and cultural experiences at the centre. The team has since implemented a plan to improve learning opportunities for Māori children by incorporating te reo and tikanga Māori in the programme and increasing participation of Māori parents in the programme. The result is a learning programme that assists Māori learners to experience success.Education and care centre
However, some services provided very limited opportunities for whānau involvement or contribution. Often involvement was not valued or practices were implemented for all with no consideration given to working with Māori whānau. Some services started out with good intentions to work with whānau at the time of enrolment, but did not maintain momentum, and the potential for building fruitful partnerships was lost.
Through genuine whānau engagement, services developed partnerships that supported children’s learning. Underpinning such partnerships were relationships based on mutual respect and reciprocity.
This evaluation found significant variation  between service types in the extent to which they:
Casual education and care services were not included in this statistical analysis because of their small number in this study.
Kindergartens were more likely than other service types to be responsive to the aspirations and expectations of the parents and whānau of Māori children. A quarter of the kindergartens were highly responsive by:
Kindergartens were also more likely than other types of services to place a high focus on realising Māori children’s potential to become competent and capable learners. Nearly a third were found to be in this category. In these kindergartens, practices included:
As well as the variation between service types, ERO found variation within service type as shown in Figure 3.
In recent years there has been much emphasis in the early childhood sector on increasing the participation of Māori children, with a caveat that this be in good quality early childhood services. This evaluation highlights the need for services to focus on Māori children as successful learners and to work in partnership with their parents and whānau to realise their hopes and aspirations.
In 62 percent of services, ERO made specific recommendations for improving provision for Māori children. As shown in Figure 5, just over a quarter of the recommendations were about improving consultation and communication with parents, whānau and the wider community, including iwi. Services needed to develop consultation processes that enabled them to identify the aspirations and expectations of parents and whānau of Māori children. Establishing responsive and respectful relationships with parents and whānau should enable regular sharing of information.
Twenty-two percent of the recommendations were related to self review, in particular services needing to:
As noted earlier in this report, most services did not include a focus on how they provided for Māori children as part of their self review, and those that did were largely interested in the bicultural aspects of their programme or curriculum.
A fifth of the recommendations were about managers and educators undertaking professional development to increase their understanding of how to support Māori children in achieving success. For educators this was particularly about looking at improving the quality of their relationship and interaction with Māori children, and including a more bicultural perspective in the programme. Many recommendations highlighted the need for educators to build their confidence in using te reo Māori and to learn more about tikanga Māori. A few recommendations focused on managers and educators undertaking professional development to increase their knowledge ofKa Hikitia.
Eleven percent were about services needing to develop strategies to help Māori children achieve success. Recommendations included the need for services to develop a vision that reflected parents’ aspirations for their children, to plan in the short and long term to respond to these aspirations and to gather evidence that shows the impact of planned strategies.
Eight percent of the recommendations were about the need for services’ guiding documents such as plans, policies and procedures include a commitment to working with Māori children and their parents and whānau. A smaller percentage focused on extending bicultural practices in the programme (six percent) and using assessment information to plan for Māori children in ways that built on the cultural knowledge they brought to the service (six percent).
A challenge for some early childhood services was to make a genuine commitment to improving their provision for Māori children. To do this they needed to find out about parents’ aspirations and expectations, and acknowledge and respond to these in authentic ways. A first step for many was to look at their current processes for consulting and communicating with the parents and whānau of Māori children and to review how well these processes were working.