Wellbeing is fundamental to an individual’s ability to function and live well. Māori have some of the worst wellbeing statistics in New Zealand (Chalmers & Williams, 2018). From a Māori worldview, mana (power, authority) and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) encapsulate the critical relationships necessary to Māori understandings of wellbeing. These relationships reflect the interconnectedness and interdependence of humans with the people, places and things in their worlds, as well as the responsibilities associated with these relationships.
This article discusses findings from phase two of a Teaching and Learning Research Initiative funded project Te Whakapūmautia te mana: Enhancing Mana Through Kaitiakitanga (2020–2021), and outlines implications for early childhood education (ECE) from the findings. The project aimed to explore the ways that ECE accords mokopuna (children) opportunities to recognise mana and understand ways to accrue and attain mana through being kaitiaki (guardians) of themselves, others and their environment, thereby contributing to a collective sense of wellbeing. Phase two of the research focused on kaiako (teachers’) understandings of mana and kaitiakitanga and how they are currently reflected in Māori medium ECE services.
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