6 April 2021
Based on the partnership established between the people of the land and the Crown by the Treaty of Waitangi, bi-culturalism is a common practice in everyday life in New Zealand. As a nation, we are always eager to renew and re-emphasise our bi-cultural characteristics in many different areas, including in Early Childhood Education settings.
Early childhood is the beginning of young children’s awareness and introducing this unique piece of New Zealand history at the children's level is always important. Every year, we recognise Waitangi Day with our children as a centre. The week leading up to Waitangi Day is full of learning experiences and opportunities which allow the children to learn about Waitangi Day in a way they’re able to understand. These include reading stories, sharing videos, doing role-plays of what happened on the day in 1840, sharing and performing Māori dances/challenges like Haka, having a shared Kai with Treetops family and whānau, singing waiata (songs) and making a taonga (treasure) to take home to remember the day.
A couple of years back, the children in the Kea room at Treetops in Botany Junction spent some time writing our own Treaty. A treaty between the teachers and children, children to children and teachers to teachers. Having had many new children join the Kea room since then, we decided to encourage the children to revisit the old treaty and to make it relevant to the group of children we have with us currently. It was a great opportunity for our children to have discussions about what’s important to them, add more content to the treaty as well as make changes (such as coughing into our elbows!)
At Treetops Early Learning Centre, we are committed to respecting our children as individuals, their voices and their rights, to allow them to be active participants in their thinking and learning. Participating in many different kinds of learning experiences stimulate children's minds about other people's cultures, languages, beliefs, customs, rituals etc. At the same time, Kea children and teachers are able to share their heritage and origin with each other and understand how we all live in the same country and share something in common. The week leading up to Waitangi day is a great week to get to know each other, develop respect for the other cultures and planting the seed of thinking about the concept of togetherness, uniqueness even if we all look different.