Webinar 5 – Mana tangata/Contribution – Is this place fair?

The fifth in a series of ten webinars on the implementation of Te Whāriki 2017.

Kaupapa – to strengthen curriculum implementation

  • Setting the scene
  • Deepening kaiako understandings of Contribution/Mana tangata
  • Supporting children’s developing Contribution/Mana tangata
  • Considerations for kaiako and leadership


Kia ora. Welcome to the recording of Webinar 5 Mana Tangata/Contribution – Is this place fair? We will begin with karakia.

Unuhia te pō, te pō whiri mārama

Tomokia te aō, te aō whatu tāngata

Tātai ki runga, tātai ki raro, tātai aho rau

Haumi e, hui e, tāiki e!

From confusion comes understanding

From understanding comes unity

We are interwoven, we are interconnected

Together as one!

Kia ora and warm Pasifika greetings to you all and welcome to the 5th in a series of 10 webinars on the implementation of Te Whāriki 2017.

These webinars have been designed as a jumping on point for all kaiako, whether you are new to early childhood or vastly experienced. It is important to acknowledge that professional learning is a personal responsibility and that you will weave your own whāriki from your participation in this webinar.

This webinar series will give you opportunities to have conversations with others, and provide you with some useful tools, strategies, and stories of practice that will support you to reflect on your current practice. We encourage you to engage with the webinar series in its entirety.

We would like to acknowledge the Te Whāriki team that surrounds us and their support and contributions to webinars

This whakataukī on page 36 represents a Kaupapa Māori world view of what contribution means. It is not the same as the English, Pākehā statement. The whakataukī represents an aspiration for mokopuna to stand tall, knowing that they are connected through whakapapa to the past, present, and future.

Essentially, when we think about mana tangata/contribution, we need to take into account a broader, wider, and deeper understanding of this as a concept in relation to the broad/rich whāriki, not in isolation.

So take some time to look at our kaupapa for this webinar. In this webinar, we aim to challenge you to engage more deeply with, and scrutinise your practice, into the strand of contribution mana tangata. Like we have said in previous webinars, “to make the familiar strange”.

For those of you who have not seen this before, these five bullet points capture areas that research shows make the greatest difference for children’s learning. Accordingly, these areas have been strengthened in Te Whāriki 2017.

Each of these challenges is significant to deepening our understanding about Contribution/Mana Tangata and what that means for all children and their parents and whānau.

As it says on page 36 of Te Whariki, “the whāriki woven by each service recognises and builds on each child’s strengths allowing them to make their own unique contribution, every child has the right to equitable opportunities to participate actively in the learning community”.

In response to the challenges in this webinar, our focus is on inclusion and equity. To do this, we are going to investigate some of the new aspects of Contribution/Mana tangata including children having a strong sense of themselves as a link between past, present, and future, children’s rights, diversity, inclusion, and fairness, children’s agency, and children as members of society.

We have several foundational documents to guide our understandings about contribution which we will come to later but it all begins with Te Tiriti o Waitangi (look at page 3) where the concept of partnership between Māori and the Crown was expressed in its articles.

When we think about partnerships, we also need to think about contributions to these relationships. Our history illustrates what happens when contributions from one partner, Māori, are not represented or respected equally. Progress towards redressing historic and ongoing inequalities acknowledge that contributions need to be equitable and valued.

Early childhood education services play “a crucial role … by providing mokopuna with culturally responsive environments that support their learning and by ensuring that they are provided with equitable opportunities to learn” (Ministry of Education, 2017, page 3).

The illustration on this slide [slide 8] is revealing. At one Tiriti signing between the Crown and Māori a child, most likely a whanaunga of the rangatira, is there, present at the signing, reluctantly (look at the way the kaumatua is holding onto the child’s wrist) but nonetheless, part of an historic hui.

On this slide [slide 9] you will find the two “new” statements about the Contribution/Mana tangata strand from both Western and Māori perspectives. You will find these statements at the bottom of page 36.

These statements challenge us to think deeply about this strand, it’s implications and imperatives, and consider not just how children learn with and alongside others, but also, how their identity and sense of themselves is connected to the past, the present, and the future. This means that we need to think about the people, places, and things beyond the settings we work in.

You might like to pause the recording here to consider these quite different perspectives. In the next couple of slides we are going to take a look at what Te Whāriki, ERO, and others have to say.

The Mana tangata/Contribution strand is evident in all the principles of Te Whāriki. In particular, we would like to highlight the links between mana tangata and the principle of empowerment/whakamana.

The explanation of whakamana encompasses some very big ideas. The quote on this slide [slide 10] implies mana tangata is not just about the individual’s mana, but also about the kaiako responsibilities to enhance the mana of others.

This means kaiako have an important role to play in children’s development and learning by providing an environment that supports children’s competence in ways that enable them to participate with and alongside others.

Implicit to empowerment, and to mana tangata, are inclusive practices which are responsive to whānau. Curriculum design should reflect culturally located perspectives, and to do that in a genuine way, requires active, responsive relationships. These can be between children as they begin to take responsibility for standing up for themselves and others.

You can see how, when you start to think about the principles in relation to the strands, the metaphor of a whāriki takes on a deeper meaning.

As you will see in this slide [slide 11], the actual goals have not changed from the original Te Whāriki. What has changed is how these are now articulated as learning outcomes with examples of evidence. Let’s look more closely at the three learning outcomes; one for each goal.

The first goal is about equitable opportunities for learning and a child’s fundamental right to live free from discrimination. The Learning Outcome focuses on fairness and inclusion.

In the second goal, children are affirmed as individuals who are able to recognise and appreciate their own rangatiratanga, their ability to learn.

As kaiako, we need to really know the child and support metacognitive strategies, strategies that support children to identify thinking skills like questioning, and problem solving, and of course, reflecting on what they know and can bring to their current interest.

In the last goal they are encouraged to learn with and alongside others, and the associated Learning Outcome – using a range of strategies and skills to play and learn. Take a look at the phrase “te ngākau aroha”. This is at the bottom of the slide. It implies that kaiako reflect on their strategies and skills to ensure all children experience a rich curriculum. Kaiko have a responsibility for their ongoing professional learning.

You might like to pause the recording here to think about the ways you support children to treat others fairly and to respect others’ points of view. Take a moment to read the words under each image [slide 12] and think about what image you find yourself connecting to.

Some of you will be familiar with this image. Note the addition of the third image which talks about systematic barriers being removed. This is something you might like to revisit with colleagues.

Equity and equal do not mean the same thing. This webinar refers to equitable opportunities to learn, promoting equitable practice and equitable opportunities to access the full depth and breadth of the curriculum.

Apart from working with children with additional needs, many services think this means “we treat everybody the same” and find it a challenge to understand government priorities in education and what they mean in practice. Equity is central to a rights-based pedagogy which is clear in the Contribution/Mana tangata strand.

Take some time to read this quote from the examples of practice within the Contribution/Mana tangata strand. In the next slide we’re going to critically examine the implications of this statement.

Asking questions about what is fair, and thinking about what you need to do to support children to be fair, are part of a larger discussion about equity. Thinking critically about the curriculum promotes equitable practices with children, parents, and whānau.

We are all pretty good at modelling respectful relationships. We invite you to pause the recording here to think about how you model disagreement or conflict.

These questions on this slide [slide 14] could be a jumping on point for you and your team to engage with this concept more deeply, based on Contribution/Mana tangata.

Take some time to read this quote [slide 15].

Working with Te Whāriki (ERO, 2013) found that 80% of services were implementing a curriculum that linked to the principles, strands, and goals of Te Whāriki, but that many services were also selective about how they used them. One of the strands identified as needing to be strengthened was Contribution. A criticism in the report suggested that just referencing Te Whāriki was not the same as implementing it, and services needed to explore the thinking and practice behind the words”.

If you are interested in reading this Report, the link is at the bottom of this slide [slide 15].

On pages 60–62 of Te Whāriki 2017, in “The underpinning theories and approaches” section, you will see that the principles set out the theoretical framework for Te Whāriki. The concepts underpinning Te Whāriki are drawn from traditional Māori thinking and sociocultural theorising.

One of our responsibilities as kaiako is to understand how children learn and develop so they reach their full potential. In sociocultural theories, learning leads development, which, using the theoretical language, transforms the ways in which children participate in cultural processes. In other words, how they join in with the day-to-day routines and activities contributes to the culture of a place and is important to their learning and development.

Have a look at the quote on this slide [slide 17]. This quote suggests that early education is about learning to understand, developing mind and identity by engaging in a setting, and through that engagement, or participation, transforming, or changing the ways in which children join in with the day-to-day experiences. It’s about increasing competence.

But what exactly does that mean? We think this links with Goal 4 – they are encouraged to learn with and alongside others.

When a child starts at an early childhood service, they don’t necessarily know or understand the rules, or the values that make a service what it is. It takes time to understand the culture of a place. Over time, and by joining in the day-to-day practices of a particular community, or the cultural processes, children become part of the place, and and are able to take responsibility for how things keep working.

You might like to pause the recording here to the identify cultural processes and practices in your service. For example, when you share kai, do you sit together? How are visitors welcomed? Again, you might like to pause the recording here to identify cultural processes and practices in your service.

Take some time to read this quote from Anne Smith [slide 18]. Something very important to remember is that infants, toddlers, and young children all learn with and alongside others. It is through experiences with others that children begin to understand what it means to be a member of society. Experiences like being listened to, where their views are respected and acknowledged as valuable, make Mana tangata/Contribution real. The onus is on kaiako to ensure that they make this visible in meaningful ways.

We have looked at the ways kaiako might deepen their understandings about contribution. Now we are going to look at deepening our understandings of Mana tangata – children have a strong sense of themselves as a link between their past, present, and future.

Clear expectations are given for kaiako in Te Whāriki 2017 around Te Ao Māori perspectives and practices that promote Mana tangata. For instance, on page 38 it states, “Kaiako recognise mokopuna as connected across time and space and as a link between past, present, and future, ‘He purapura i ruia mai i Rangiātea’. They celebrate and share appropriate kōrero and waiata that support mokopuna to maintain this link”.

Sir Apirana Ngata’s famous quote on page 3 of Te Whāriki looks both to the past and the future, urging Māori to confront the world of Pakeha but never lose or forget their wairua, ngā taonga tuku iho, the knowledge handed down from tipuna.

In webinars 3 and 4 we talked about providing a local curriculum and the ways we share pakiwaitara and pūrakau (local iwi stories and legends that are usually place-based). These strengthen children’s sense of well being and belonging and that in turn strengthens their sense of being part of the culture of this place. Remember we discussed children learning through understanding cultural processes. These tools and artefacts, stories, waiata, legends, support children’s active participation, and contribution in the setting.

One story told in the Wellington region is about Ngake and Whataitai. The pictures represents the taniwha who fought and created Wellington Harbour. There are lots of places you can find stories about mana whenua which develop mana tangata and contribute to mokopuna maintaining links between the present, the past, and the future.

One of the new features in the Contribution/Mana tangata strand focuses on children’s ability to use memory and to make links between the past, present, and future. Memories of the past contribute to children’s sense of belonging, based on shared experiences.

Mrs Hei Hei, Otaki Kindergarten’s hen, was about to lay and she was looking for a nest. The tamariki had been in a state of great excitement. In the image on this slide [slide 21], you can see the young boy in the cape. He is holding Mrs Hei Hei and his friend is showing her the photo of her nesting.

This story is recorded by kaiako in the Term Book, a scrapbook of events used to document learning. It is on display in the kindergarten and is accessible to children to revisit as a way to enhance metacognition – thinking about thinking.

What we see in this slide [slide 21] is how children use the Term Book as a tool for learning and for remembering an event. The interesting point here is that the boys are utilising a cultural artefact, the Term Book, familiar to them at the Kindergarten. This story is an example of children’s agency. They are determining their own experience, albeit with a chicken.

In the next few slides we are going to look at children as members of society, children’s agency, inclusion, and diversity and what these concepts mean in relation to ensuring all children can make a valued contribution to your service’s curriculum. As we said at the beginning of this webinar, these are concepts we invite you to reflect on more deeply in your own time.

You may have noticed that children’s rights are much more visible in Te Whāriki 2017, particularly in the contribution strand. They were always there but some of the language associated with rights was not as explicit. Now we have rights foregrounded. On page 39 under examples of practice that support the contribution learning outcomes for young children it says, “All children have rights of access to all learning experiences”.

So what are rights? The main reference point is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and in 2018, New Zealand Aotearoa will have been a signatory to this human rights treaty for 25 years, almost as long as we have had Te Whāriki. Te Whāriki 2017 is one important way that our Government is making children’s rights a reality.

When we think about children’s rights, there are two important points for us to remember. All children are rights holders, and all adults working with children are responsible for upholding children’s rights. Basically, the key message is that, like adults, children are members of society and because they are children, they have a special set of rights. So, all rights are for all children, all the time. There is a link to the Children’s Convention at the bottom of this slide.

In the next two slides, we explore the notion of agency and what it means to be an agentic child.

Te Whāriki states that increasingly, children have rights to agency over their own lives (page 12). It also says that these rights are aligned to the mana of the child. Agency means that children are recognised as capable and competent, and able to influence their own experiences.

The implication is that there are equitable opportunities for all children to access all the experiences offered through a rich curriculum.

So, in terms of the Contribution/Mana tangata strand, kaiako should be aware of how important experiences are to supporting children’s agency. Children express their agency through their actions which reveal how they actively construct their their social world. When a child exercises agency, he or she is being self-determining. Voice is regarded as the way children express their agency. Bearing in mind “the 100 languages of children”, the implications for kaiako are not just to listen with ears and eyes, but to facilitate the ways children express their voice.

In the next slide [slide 25], we are going to share a story about the ways kaiako intentionally encourage children’s agency. This story of practice is from Te Puna Whakatupu o Whare Amai where their philosophy supports the infants and toddlers to develop tuākana/tēina relationships, roles, and responsibilities. At times kaiako plan activities to embed tuākana/tēina practices in everyday routines.

At other times, children’s natural desires to show affection, love, and care are fostered, valued, and further supported by kaiako and whānau. This is how children’s agency is incorporated into the tikanga of the Puna and the bullet points here show the learning outcomes for their mokopuna.

This story and many others can be accessed through Te Whāriki Online in the ”infants and toddlers” section. The link is at the bottom of this slide.

Now let’s look at inclusion. Te Whāriki is an inclusive curriculum, a curriculum for all children. One of the enduring purposes of education is to prepare people for life in a participatory democracy. Day-to-day experiences in an early childhood service mirror life in the community and in society at large.

Inclusive education is the starting point for understanding democratic education, a point where social justice issues can be introduced as part of life in an early childhood service. That puts a lot of responsibility on kaiako to grab hold of teachable moments for socially just outcomes.

Kaiako need to acknowledge how children learn in their own way. Kaiako have to ensure that children do learn “a tona wā”, by removing barriers and providing additional support where necessary so children can access, and contribute to, the full depth and breadth of the curriculum.

Overall, there is a lot of policy support for inclusive practices in early learning. Check out the link on this slide [slide 26] to the Inclusion page on Te Whāriki Online where you can find links to two human rights treaties ratified by New Zealand and the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

Now let’s think about our practices. How do you understand inclusion?

The questions in this slide might be useful for you to reflect on after this webinar, but for now, think about the question highlighted in red.

You might like to pause the recording here to consider who is on the margins in your early childhood service? For example, can a child with physical disabilities in a wheelchair get into the sandpit or access the family corner? So again, you might like to pause the recording here to consider who is on the margins in your early childhood service?

Another consideration is your role in working alongside other professionals that come to your service to work with individual children.

We have looked at children as members of society, children’s agency, and inclusion. Now we will look at diversity.

There is a fundamental expectation in Te Whāriki that each service will offer a curriculum that recognises and respects diversity. Think about diversity in your community, beyond the walls of your service. Is that diversity visible in your service? Remember diversity is not just ethnically based. Consider the diverse family structures that may be in your communities, including same sex, blended, single parent.

Te Whāriki 2017 (pages 37 and 39) makes it explicit that children’s family background be viewed positively in the early childhood setting and that language and resources are inclusive of each child’s gender, ability, ethnicity and background.

Another point to reflect on is how diversity and fairness are linked. To be fair means you need to be inclusive, tolerant, and respectful of the diversity not just in your service, and but in your community and in society at large.

In the next slide we are going to share a story about welcoming and valuing all children.

Botany Downs Kindergarten kaiako have a commitment to welcoming and valuing all children, their families, and the wider community. They open their doors to all children whose parents enrol them at the kindergarten. When a child who enrols has additional needs they don't say, "Yes, but only if x, y and z are in place …".

Many people assumed that the kindergarten would provide specific help, equipment, and materials only for children with “difficulties” or “impairments”. Instead, kaiako focus on the whole environment and identify aspects of teaching that enhance participation and learning for all children. Botany Downs Kindergarten has prioritised inclusion of all children, including those with disabilities. They made changes that are beneficial for all at the same time as reducing barriers for children with disabilities so they can actively contribute to the service’s curriculum design and implementation.

For all situations in which challenges arise, they engage in possibility thinking (Cremin, Burnard, & Craft, 2006). This approach aligns with the creative ways in which the Kindergarten thinks of as developing a sense of belonging for all children as they join from diverse backgrounds. Possibility thinking foregrounds inclusive strategies and focuses on how to empower all children and whānau to contribute. Some children, and maybe their parents, just happen to have some different and additional needs.

Think back to the third image on the equity slide. This is an example of systematic barriers being removed and example of universal design for learning which is a 21st century principle.

An important responsibility of kaiako is to listen deeply to children and recognise that children, just like grown ups, need time to make up their minds, or as Anne Smith noted, to form a point of view. For a child or parent or another kaiako to be able to contribute to the setting means listening, in a pedagogical sense, to their ideas, concerns, and considerations.

This means being aware of how to listen, to really listen! Remember, agency is how children express their voice. As kaiako we need to be aware of where we listen to children, do we have time to listen? What is the space like? Are there others around? Does that impact on what the child wants to say or how they can say it? And what will you do with what you have heard?

So, have a think about the questions on this slide. How do you listen? Where do you listen? Who do you listen to? Who might you not hear from? Talk to? Listen to? How do you know?

You might like to pause the recording here and think about why you listen. Each of these questions are about the relationships you have with others in your learning community. You might even like to take one question and unpack it at a staff hui or within internal evaluation to deepen your understanding and awareness of equitable opportunities for learning, the basis of Contribution/Mana tangata.

It is also important to move beyond listening to action. What are you going to do with the knowledge you gain from listening?

On page 40, Te Whāriki outlines a range of considerations for leadership, organisation, and practice in relation to Contribution/Mana tangata. Take some time to read the bullet points on this slide.

These practices support cooperative, socially just outcomes for children and whānau. The onus is on kaiako to build respectful, inclusive, and reciprocal relationships with an individual child, small groups of children and beyond, with community. Relationships that are responsive to children’s varied abilities, strengths, interests, and learning trajectories.

Leaders have overall responsibility to ensure all children can access the full depth and breadth of the early learning setting’s curriculum, enabling all children to learn with and alongside their peers.

The considerations in this slide [slide 32] provide some useful indicators of effective leadership and practice that could be used when evaluating your curriculum.

The whole point of Te Whāriki is to weave understanding between and across the principles and strands. Webinar 3 was about Well being/Mana atua, and acknowledging children’s sense of wellbeing in a safe and trustworthy environment where all children are valued and supported to actively contribute and participate. Webinar 4 was about Belonging/Mana whenua and developing a “space” for belonging for every child and family. And in this, webinar 5, we have explored how active participation that supports children’s agency is influenced by their sense of wellbeing and belonging in a community of learners.

Once again, to reiterate from earlier in the webinar, when you start to think about the principles in relation to the strands, the metaphor of a whāriki takes on a deeper meaning.

You might like to pause the recording here and consider, what action are you going to take from this webinar?

And we’ll conclude today with our karakia whakamutanga.

Unuhia te pō, te pō whiri mārama

Tomokia te aō, te aō whatu tāngata

Tātai ki runga, tātai ki raro, tātai aho rau

Haumi e, hui e, tāiki e!

From confusion comes understanding

From understanding comes unity

We are interwoven, we are interconnected

Together as one!

This video is part of Te Whāriki webinars.