|dc.description.abstract||This thesis identifies, discuss and shares the stories of a group of Māori women during their respective careers in the kindergarten sector from the 1950s to 1989. I explore the research participants’ early learning as part of their whānau, haū, iwi, and their community, and examine how these may have influenced their lives. I identify and discuss the significance of their stories as they share how being Māori affected them as children, as students, as young women, as teachers in the field. and during their professional development journey. I include myself within the thesis as I seek to determine and analyse my position as the researcher with experiences similar to the research participants. By including my own story I create a collaborative, collective process that I refer to as whakawhanaungatanga, the interrelatedness of the research participants, the researcher, and the stories shared. Throughout the research I explore the process of colonisation and its effects on the Māori way of life, in particular the development of an education system that impacted on Māori children and women.
The methodologies chosen for this research are based on Mātauranga Māori - Māori knowledge, Kaupapa Māori, and autoethnography. Combined, these methodologies provide a platform for my investigation into the research participants’ life stories. I identified that sharing the research methodologies with the research participants and encouraging them to be active participants gave them confidence in the process and assured them that their stories would be treated with respect and that the research would be undertaken in culturally appropriate ways to honour their self-determination or Tino Rangatiratanga. Following these methodologies, research participants, Kaumatua, and Kuia approved the title of the research: Marakihau. Marakihau is a Taniwha of Māori mythology, she was chosen because of her uniqueness within the mythologies of Taniwha, often described as aggressive, strong, and yet gentle. She was an apt analogy for the research participants as we traversed the unknown and unpredictable world of education. The mandate from Kaumatua and Kuia and all research participants substantiated the research and allowed me to proceed on behalf of all involved in the research with confidence.
Research participants reflections instigated many positive memories, however among them were also negative ones. Memories of racism, of being marginalised, of being overlooked for leadership positions within the Kindergarten service, or for professional development courses. This is discussed openly and recorded in their stories with many reflecting that those experiences determined who they became as practitioners. The thesis discusses how the establishment of Te Runanga Māori early childhood education Inc. combined with the Kindergarten Teachers Association were instrumental in strengthening research participants’ resolve to address and challenge the inequalities within the kindergarten sector. The collective determination to include te reo and tikanga Māori and the development of an early childhood curriculum that reflected Māori. Finally, this thesis provides some clarification to the early childhood community about why Māori kindergarten teachers were politically active and chose to challenge the systems in place at that time.||