Placing cultural values at the heart of the teaching methods in a Pacific ECE environment has inspired one ECE to deliver active play and movement in a unique way.  Healthy Families Waitakere having established and supported a network of Pacific ECE’s in West Auckland were able to secure the inclusion of FunSkills into a centre.

FunSkills is professional development for teachers around skills and movement, delivered by Sport Waitakere. As part of the programme delivery Healthy Families Waitakere, Sport Waitakere and Cook Islands Educators worked together to design an approach that involves play activities based on traditional practices from the Cook Islands.

Over 6 months, Nor West Cook Islands Early Childhood teachers developed their capability to teach active play and were supported to embed cultural approaches into movement and play.

This enabled children to be engaged in physical activity which celebrated their Cook Islands culture. Children used stilts made out of rope and coconut shells (tamaka kapu akari) and did an activity that resembles the grating of a coconut while other children and teachers sing a Pe’e kana’ akari’ chant.

By applying a cultural lens, teacher’s capability and understanding of movement and play was enhanced and Acting Supervisor Manava Paroti said their pedagogy of teaching and care had shifted.

“The teachers have deepened their learning and understanding of movement and we have changed the way we think about active play”, she says.

Their activities align with the Ministry of Health’s Sit Less, Move More, Sleep Well: Active Play Guidelines for Under Fives as they enable children to develop skills that will give them the confidence and competence to be physically active for life.

“Since the programme began, the children have got more confident with their balance outside and are also listening better”, says Manava.

With 94% of Pasifika children attending the 225 early childhood centres across West Auckland, Healthy Families Waitakere are engaging more centres to develop other Pasifika approaches to movement and play to nurture and develop children in Early Learning Environments.