Tauranga kindergarten teacher Toia Palmer plans to use her own teaching experiences and qualifications gained at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa to support other early childhood teachers to grow their understanding and application of kaupapa Māori.
Toia originally enrolled at the wānanga (TWoA) Smart Steps to Business programme to support her whānau’s orchard business.
That idea soon changed after her kaiako Sarah Lockwood encouraged her to use the vast kowledge and skills she already has.
“My goal now is to support teachers in implementing te reo Māori in their early childhood teaching spaces but through a kaupapa Māori lens and through the use of Māori resources and toi (art),” says Toia who has a Degree in Early Childhood Education (ECE) and over 20 years of experience in the sector.
She has been studying off and on with TWoA since the early 2000’s.
In that time she’s managed to achieve a number of diplomas and certificates in areas such as te reo Māori, adult education, and Māori and indigenous art.
“Over the years I have studied with TWoA to build my understanding and knowledge of kaupapa Māori and I’ve implemented the ideas that I’ve learnt back in to my teaching practice and it’s been very rewarding.”
The hope is that Toia’s new business plan will be able to do the same for other teachers in ECE.
“I’m really interested in working with kaiako that understand why they need to learn te ao Māori and are ready to take that next step.
“We all have a responsibility to honor Te Tiriti o Waitangi. I want to be promoting te ao Māori and kaupapa Māori in its highest quality form.”
Toia has already accepted her first formal contract with one early childhood centre to do cultural advisory work. But she plans to take business development slowly as she has also decided to return to TWoA doing a Level 4 Certificate in Māori and Indigenous Art, as well as a total immersion te reo Māori programme at the University of Waikato.
“This contract has been a positive from doing the business programme and it wouldn’t have emerged had I not started working alongside Sarah.”