He Piki Raukura (the flight feathers of the toroa): Understanding and assessing ao Māori child development constructs within kaupapa Māori early years education
Quality early years education has been shown to have far-reaching positive impacts on children. Indigenous early years approaches have been found to make a difference in the lives of young Indigenous children. However, there is a lack of rigorous evaluative research into effective kaupapa Māori early years programmes. Moreover, tamariki Māori are currently assessed using measures based on non-Māori constructs that do not take into account Māori cultural priorities such as the child’s cultural context, language and whānau connections. The research presented in this thesis sought to address these gaps in the literature. The research was conducted at the interface between mātauranga Māori and Western science, in three stages. First, N=23 whānau enrolled at a Taranaki kaupapa Māori immersion early years programme identified key features of quality provision. Five themes were identified: the central importance of reo, tikanga and local identity; building whānau/community; clear and consistent processes; dealing with issues positively; and commitment to a shared kaupapa. Through a series of iterative wānanga with whānau and kaupapa Māori education experts, a novel set of strengths-based Māori child behaviour constructs was identified. The four constructs are tuakiri (a secure local Māori identity); whānauranga (feeling and acting, as a member of a whānau/community); manawaroa (having courage in adversity, persisting despite difficulty and a positive outlook); and piripono (having integrity, commitment and responsibility for a shared kaupapa/purpose). The second stage involved creating and testing the psychometric properties of a set of tools to measure the four constructs. Parents and kaitiaki answered questions and video observations were undertaken with N=28 children aged 0-5 years at five timepoints over a school year. The questionnaire measures were found to be meaningful and appropriate for whānau. Different raters showed good inter-rater reliability on observational ratings of the videos. The whānau and kaitiaki versions of the questionnaire and the observational rating schedule were internally consistent and correlated as expected at most timepoints. The third stage involved growth curve analysis which demonstrated significant positive change in each of the four constructs over the five timepoints, even when controlling for age to account for development. Overall, the findings of this thesis provide valuable contributions to understanding appropriate ways of assessing young Māori children, effective Māori child development and the importance of kaupapa Māori immersion early years approaches in fostering strengths-based behaviours in young Māori children. The study helps address the lack of Māori-specific research in the field of child development and early years education by providing whānau and Māori communities preliminary evidence about the potential long-term benefits of engaging in quality kaupapa Māori early years education. It also informs best educational and clinical practice including equitable approaches when working with young Māori children and their whānau. These findings can mark a turning point in Māori child development, ensuring culturally appropriate assessment that is founded on equity and fairness. Importantly, there is a need for policymakers to pay attention and properly resource proven interventions and future research in this field.
Advisor: Poulton, Richie; Treharne, Gareth; Theodore, Reremoana; Ratima, Mihi; Edwards, Will
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Psychology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Māori, Indigenous, “child behaviour constructs”, “child development”, “kaupapa Māori”, “early years education”, “early childhood assessment”, “Indigenous psychology”, lifecourse
Research Type: Thesis