The process of becoming a bi-lingual learning environment aims to unlock the potential of our youth through tikanga Māori. This journey embodies the core values of He Whanau Manaaki and can serve as a case-study for other kindergartens with similar aspirations. This process has been driven by a group of teachers who, through their own emersion journeys, have come together to pave the way for a new era of a truly bi-cultural early childhood education system.  

Katoa began their journey through Te Hurihanganui and sought professional development to try and address racism and inequality. This journey of reflection was centred on decolonisation and deconstructing an education system that doesn’t always support all demographics.  

A crucial aspect of this process was tuning in to the needs of the community and understanding what will work for, and support, not only the tamariki, but the parents and wider whānau.   

For the Kaiako involved, their role at Katoa is the culmination of a commitment to the benefits of immersion and a passion for the Māori language, culture, and the advantages to their akonga.  
Some of the kaiako involved haven’t come from education backgrounds rather, decided that this vision was one important enough to get involved with and bring to life. Being able to attract professionals with such valuable knowledge and dedication is a testament to the value and importance of this journey.   

Each kaiako ranges in fluency and are all committed to further developing their competency. As a team, they tautoko one another to achieve this overarching goal.   

Equipped with the understanding that Māori language, culture, and identity are key in reaching the innate potential of the community, Katoa have begun to implement their new curriculum.   

By understanding & implementing Tikanga Māori and the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, seeking opportunities to improve and innovate, and developing authentic relationships with the community Katoa kindergarten is the quintessential example of Whānau Manaaki’s values at work.   

These values operate stride for stride with the values that underpin Kaupapa Maori and are at the center of everything that they do, the tangible benefits have started to show. 

Katoa deliberately and intentionally incorporates the use of Te Reo. For example, using te Maramataka the Māori calendar as much as possible, incorporating Te Reo in Facebook posts,  
and writing job postings in Te Reo.  

Katoa has been able to successfully take the relationships they’ve formed with whānau the community and local iwi to create educational opportunities for their akonga by way of visits to local marae and education focused on the iwi and ancestry of the Tamariki in the kindergarten.  

To see the success, they’ve had to date, the kaiako at Katoa have consistently remained united and proactive in advocating for positive change and been willing to engage in courageous conversations head on.  

A defining characteristic of this journey is the bravery required to be one of the first kindergartens to venture into a new understanding of early childhood education. Hopefully, through this case study, other kindergartens are encouraged and motivated to explore how they can start a journey of their own. 

Proudly, other Kindergartens, within Whānau Manaaki, are also about to embark on similar paths, with Taitoko kindergarten in Levin also committed to this shared goal of full emersion. Looking toward the future, hopefully this initiative, bravery and commitment will define the future of, not only early childhood education, but Aotearoa as a bi-cultural nation.  

Find out more about Katoa Kindergarten here


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