7 Renarrativizing Indigenous Rights-Based Provision Within “Mainstream” Early Childhood Services
The Rights of Indigenous Children
Renarrativizing Indigenous Rights–Based Provision Within “Mainstream” Early Childhood Services
Jenny Ritchie & Cheryl Rau
Aotearoa1 New Zealand is a small island country in the southern hemisphere with an Indigenous population, the Māori, comprising approximately 15% of the total population of 4.4 million, and 22% of the school population (Statistics New Zealand. Tatauranga Aotearoa, 2012). In 1840, Māori chiefs and the British Crown signed the Treaty of Waitangi/Tiriti o Waitangi, which in exchange for the allowance of British settlement, confirmed that Māori would retain their lands and everything of value to them, including their belief systems and language (Orange, 1987). Unfortunately, the incoming British settlers largely ignored these commitments in their determination to obtain land for their own purposes. They not only alienated Māori from their whenua (traditional lands), but through their usurpation of “democratic” processes also greatly impacted the intergenerational transmission of traditional knowledges and language (Walker, 2004). Through Māori determination and persistence, the last quarter of the 20th century saw a gradual recognition of Māori rights of retaining their language and gaining restitution for losses of lands and resources. As a response to a claim by Māori to the Waitangi Tribunal (Waitangi Tribunal, 1986), the Māori Language Act of 1987 recognised te reo Māori as an official language (New Zealand Parliament, 1987). The educational system, which had historically played a predominant role in the invalidation of the Māori language, began...
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