Modified from The Spinoff, 26 June 2018 and The Conversation, 30 June 2018

Matariki is the Māori name for the Pleaides star cluster. It rises during mid-winter and marks the beginning of the Māori new year. Matariki is one of the most obvious star groups in the night sky and you can it see without needing a telescope.

The word is an abbreviation of the saying “Ngā mata o te ariki Tāwhirimātea” meaning “the eye of the god Tāwhirimātea” in reference to Tāwhirimātea, god of the wind and weather. In the story of creation, Tāne Mahuta (god of the forest) separated his parents Ranginui (atua of the sky) and Papatūānuku (Earth mother), and his brother Tāwhirimātea got upset and tore out his eyes, crushed them into pieces and thew them into the sky.

MatarikiMatariki is often referred to as the Seven Sisters however there are actually nine stars.

Unlike western New Year, the dates of Matariki change year by year. This year Matariki set on May 19 and will rise again between July 17 and 20.

According to the maramataka (Māori lunar calendar) this year Matariki will be most visible between 6-13 July.

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Everything you wanted to know about Matariki but were too embarrassed to ask

Matariki: reintroducing the tradition of Māori New Year celebrations

Early childcare centres ‘like factory farms’

Newstalk ZB, Monday, 18 December 2017

A survey of 900 early childhood teachers revealed that more than a quarter wouldn’t send their own children to the centre they work at.

Nadine Higgins interviews Child Forum CEO Sarah Alexander about the survey results.

Sarah Alexander says the high numbers of children have an impact on learning and safety.

“Concern has certainly risen since the law has changed to allow triple the number of children in early childhood centres.”

“Some of our early childcare centres have been described as being akin to factory farms for children.”

Listen to the full interview »


Special education wait times ‘appalling’

John Gerritsen, Education Correspondent, RNZ

Some under-five-year-olds with disabilities and behaviour problems are waiting up to a year to get help – and, in Wellington and Porirua, average waiting times are double the average for the rest of the country, Education Ministry figures show.

The ministry’s figures showed children in the Wellington region were waiting an average of seven days for an initial assessment, but their first appointment with the early intervention service was taking an average of 139 days, compared to an average of 68 in most other parts of the country.

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Where are the policy announcements for early learning?

According to Kathy Wolfe, Chief Executive – Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand, early childhood education is conspicuous by its absence from current political debate on education.

“From the recent education policy announcements by the National party government and opposition parties, you would think that our tamariki’s education doesn’t begin until they step through the door of their first primary school.”

“No government is going to materially improve educational achievement at primary and secondary school unless it tackles head-on our country’s persistent under investment in quality teaching in early childhood education.

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New mental health initiatives announced

The Government has announced a new social investment fund for mental health. The fund represent a new social investment approach to preventing and responding to mental disorders in New Zealand. This means looking at the whole of peoples’ lives and the factors that can affect their mental wellbeing.  It also puts increased focus on building resilience earlier before problems become acute.

Two of the 17 new initiatives that directly relate to ECE are:

  • Strengthening self-regulatory skills in early childhoodThis initiative would seek a provider to deliver a pilot to deliver and evaluate an intervention focused on developing internal self-regulatory skills for 3 and 4 year olds in home and/or ECE settings. A pilot approach is needed because, while some promising age-appropriate interventions to improve self-control in pre-school age children are developing, further evidence of effectiveness is needed before a rollout is advisable. It is expected that a proposed intervention would not only show the ability to improve self-control in young children, but also at a relatively low cost per child and before the cost of adverse outcomes is incurred.
    Low levels of self-control appear to be relatively common in early childhood. The Growing Up in New Zealand Study found that just over 25% of children aged four and a half lacked self-control when assessed using a standard test. Higher levels of self-control have been found to predict many important outcomes that extend into adulthood. After accounting for socioeconomic status and IQ, individual differences in children’s self-control can predict physical and mental health, criminal behaviour, and wealth in adulthood, as well as better educational outcomes.
  • Strongest Families pilot
    This investment will support a pilot based on the Canadian programme ‘Strongest Families’ that delivers CBT via telephone conferences for whānau with children experiencing anxiety or moderate mental health or behavioural problems. The programme teaches whānau skills to better manage their child’s behavioural problems, and teaches children how to manage their symptoms of anxiety. It is proposed to test and evaluate the initiative with up to 1,000 children aged between 3-12 and their whānau. The Canadian programme on which this pilot is based has been evaluated to improve behaviour modification (approximately 25% of participants successfully managed behavioural problems to extent they avoided diagnosis), educational outcomes and whānau relationships/functioning; and to reduce treatment barriers, strengthen therapeutic alliance and result in higher self-disclosure than usual treatment. It is expected that these impacts will lead to improved future outcomes for the children involved (including being better able to cope with their symptoms, reduced acute/unplanned care, reduced likelihood of offending and improved employment outcomes) as well as their whānau (including creating safer and supportive home environments, improved health literacy and improved mental wellbeing, resulting in a reduction of the intergenerational impacts of poor mental health).

ERO’s new online resource: Improvement in Action

ERO has released a collection of videos and publications that bring the School Evaluation Indicators to life and showcase schools that are making a significant and positive difference for their learners.

ERO’s School Evaluation Indicators are underpinned by New Zealand and international evidence and research. Their focus is not just on achievement, but also on the importance of wellbeing as a foundation for children to be able to succeed.

The six domains identified within our framework are:

  • Stewardship
  • Leadership for equity and excellence
  • Educationally powerful connections and relationships
  • Responsive curriculum, effective teaching and opportunity to learn
  • Professional capability and collective capacityimprovement_action
  • Evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building for improvement and innovation

These domains are related to school practices, which are school-wide in their emphasis.

The launch of Improvement in Action | Te Ahu Whakamua is the first step in an ongoing development project designed to support professionals and effective education practice.
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