Whakapūmau te Mana: Implications for Early Childhood Practice
Wellbeing is fundamental to an individual’s ability to function and live well. Māori have some of the worst wellbeing statistics in New Zealand (Chalmers & Williams, 2018). From a te āo Māori perspective mana (power, authority) and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) encapsulate the critical relationships inherent in Māori understandings of wellbeing. These relationships highlight the interconnectedness and interdependence of humans with the people, places and things in their worlds, and the responsibilities associated with these people, places and things. This article discusses findings from a Teaching and Learning Research Initiative funded project, Te Whakapūmautia te mana: Enhancing Mana Through Kaitiakitanga (2020–2021), and outlines implications for early childhood education (ECE) from the findings. The aim of the project was to investigate ways that ECE provides mokopuna (children) opportunities to recognise mana and understand ways to attain mana through being kaitiaki (guardians) of themselves, others and their environment, thereby contributing to a collective sense of wellbeing. The article focuses on kaiako understandings of mana and kaitiakitanga and how they are currently reflected in contemporary ECE services.
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