Journey to New Zealand Part II: Diversity
Migration is a part of everyday life in New Zealand, and it has been this way for a long time. A short digression into NZ History: New Zealand was populated only at the end of the 13th century. The first settlers were Polynesians from the Pacific islands. They called the two land masses Aotearoa – the land of the long white cloud. These people went on to call themselves Maōri. In the 17th century, the first Europeans arrived in New Zealand. After decades of conflict between the Europeans and the Maōri, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between Maōri chiefs and representatives of the Queen of England. There are also many immigrants from Asia coming to live in NZ. Cultural diversity is omnipresent in NZ-everyday life.
This is reflected in New Zealand ECEC’s. On many walls, you will see depictions Maōri gods, myths and legends, but also other languages and the cultures have a huge influence on ECEC’s in New Zealand. The diversity is depicted on wall documentations and photos show the different cultural practices in the families. Chinese and Indian culture is a huge part of this.
In my interviews, the teachers told me that, in their opinion, it was of huge importance to value and respect the children’s different cultural backgrounds and try to understand and respect their values. One teacher told me that she used to value independence a lot, but after getting into dialogue with Chinese families, she doesn’t deem it as important anymore, because, in their culture, independence is seen as a danger rather than a positive thing.
One realises the full extent of the diversity especially regarding one of my main research topics: the pedagogical documentation.
In many ECEC’s teachers try to write learning stories in the mother tongue of the children. The goal is not, as per usual, to make the families get used to the language, but to be welcoming of their culture and language. It is more important to the teachers that the children’s family understands the learning story than to get the family used to speak English. Of course, this is just possible if at least one teacher in an ECEC can speak the mother tongues of the children.
This strong respect of cultural diversity could be something to think about at German ECEC’s, like the fact that a lot of Teachers from other countries of origin work at NZ ECEC’s.
Image at the top was made at Chelsea Kindergarten, Auckland.
Click here for German version.