Toi Tū Te Whenua : a study of Māori visual arts as dialogue with Papatūānuku

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Heta-Lensen, Yo
Wrightson, Helen
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Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
early childhood education
Māori visual arts
visual arts
inclusive education
visual arts education
New Zealand
Heta-Lensen, Y., & Wrightson, H. (2019). Toi Tū Te Whenua: A Study of Māori Visual Arts as Dialogue with Papatūānuku. International Art in Early Childhood Research Journal 2019 Research Journal, 1(1), Article 8: 1-21.
This article expands on ideas developed in Ngā Taonga Tuku Iho Māori Visual Arts and Cultural Fusion. Studying Authentic Engagement (Wrightson & Heta-Lensen, 2013). In it we discussed the integrated nature of ngā toi ataata (visual arts) to Māori life and the connectedness to people, places, things and time. In this article we demonstrate how ngā toi ataata dialogues with histories, values and locations across time, place and space. Authentic engagement in ngā toi ataata in the context of early childhood education in Aotearoa New Zealand is critiqued through a socio-cultural and socio-political lens. Through the examples that we present, stories emerge that demonstrate a growing relationship with Ranginui (Sky father) and Papatūānuku (Earth mother) which contribute to developing student teachers’ own working theories, stories, and understandings about the world and their place in it. Employing the visual arts in this way provides opportunities to deepen understandings of indigenous world views and develop a sense of connection to the natural world. It engages student teachers in understandings of artsbased teaching and learning practice from both an educational and a cultural perspective. It provides an opportunity to reflect on multiple perspectives held about the world and how different peoples express their relationship with it. The article also explores how the incorporation of Māori visual arts in an initial teacher education programme supports teachers to meet the requirements of the Aotearoa New Zealand early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki. He whāriki mātauranga mō ngā mokopuna o Aotearoa. Early childhood curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2017).
University of New England
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