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How Kainga contribute to the learning of the ECE

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  1. 1. In this essay, I would unpack the concept of Kāinga and its significance to Early ChildhoodEducation (ECE), Pasifika families and communities. What is Kāinga? Tu‟itahi (2009) inLanga Fonua defined Kāinga as an extended family and went on about how a TonganKāinga in New Zealand become very successful due to their valuing and nurturing theirKāinga members. Kāinga was known to have included non-blood relatives as wrote by Helu(1988):“Most have defined Kāinga as blood relatives, some have argued for the inclusion ofnon-blood relatives as well, (pg. 49)”. Bott (1982), described that Tongan people definedKāinga flexibly by stating, “The boundaries vary according to the activity concerned andpeople are considered Kāinga only if they mutually recognise the relationship. People whocannot trace a biological tie may call each other Kāinga if they treat each other as kinsmen (p.57)”.The concept of Kāinga, there are many factors, which interweave to provide the mechanismor force that caused the Kāinga to operate the way they are, I will unpack some of thesefactors that I believe important for this topic. These factors include rank (tu’unga), respects(faka’apa’apa), and obligations (fatongia).As a Tongan myself, from the moment I was born, I was automatically born to a rank(tu’unga) in my nuclear family. As a female, I automatically assumed a rank that is higherthan the male or my brothers. As the second eldest daughter, I also assumed a rank inferior orlower than the eldest daughter in the family. My father is the head of the family with mymother as a second in command.As my nuclear family extends to include other members of both my mother‟s family and myfather‟s family, the same principle applies where everybody is automatically ranked bygender and seniority. Grijp (1993) noted the distinction between the kainga’i fa’e(matrilateral) and the kainga’i tamai (patrilateral). The Kāinga can extend as far back asgenealogy is known and is headed by an ‘ulumotu’a (head of the Kāinga), which translatesmature head and is the oldest male genealogically. As the nuclear family extends into thecontext of extended family, some ranks transformed. My mother, a second in command in mynuclear family becomes a mehikitanga (an aunty) to her brothers‟ children, and assume therole of fahu, a ceremonial high power position within the Kāinga. My father will assume therole of fa’e Tangata, which translate as male mother and his children will render inferior tohis sister who now assume the role of aunty and fahu.Hulita Tangitau: 0829435 Page 1
  2. 2. The faka’apa’apa , I believe is the backbone which help to keep the Kāinga together. This isthe respects between brothers and sisters and the taboos observed between them.Faka’apa’apa is nurtured in the nuclear family. Sefesi (1998) told of how young Tonganslearn skills, values and knowledge which are vital for their everyday life through the contextof moheofi and ‘olunga he kaliloa (sleeping in mother‟s arms). The faka’apa’apa and taboobetween brothers and sisters are further highlighted as their rank and status changes as theybecome mehikitanga/Fahu and fa’e Tangata in the context of Kāinga.In the Kāinga system, everyone is born into a rank and status. My rank and status willdetermine my fatongia or obligation within the Kāinga. Grijp (1993) pointed out Kāinga ascategory of relatives who do not form a group in everyday life but which can operate as agroup on special occasion, such as wedding and funerals. The wealth of the Kāinga isproduced individually and would pool together resources and wealth in special occasionssuch as weddings and funerals. One‟s obligation or fatongia is determined by one‟s rank,status, and the proper context. Special occasions provide opportunities for the Kāingamembers to join together. It is now becomes common for the Kāinga to hold reunionmeetings from time to time to provide opportunity for members to get to know each otherbetter. It is not unusual, however, for the Kāinga to experience conflicts, which leads tobreakdown (fakamotumotu) in the Kāinga connectedness.The Tongan concept of Kāingaa is significance to ECE in several ways. Child rearingpractices in the Kāinga system where a child is cared for, collectively by the extendedfamilies. The fa’e (mother) is the principle carer for the child. Morton (1996) noted therelationship between the fa‟e and the child as familiar and affectionate. Other members of theKāinga also care for the child such as older children and even grandparents. The child isexposed to a wider range of behaviour. Imitation, repetition and listening to adults enhancethe ability of children to participate. The children are involved, obligation is explained byadults and on other occasions they participate and learn from adults‟ modelling, MacIntyre(2008).Grandparents and elders in the Kāinga can provide knowledge to help our children learn inECE. They can tell folk tales or fanaga (story telling). They can provide historicalinformation passing on oral traditions to our children. Grandparents also assumed the role ofcaring for their grand children when both parents are engaged in paid employment.Hulita Tangitau: 0829435 Page 2
  3. 3. An understanding of the concept of Kāinga by educators and management of ECE will resultin better communication and consultation between ECE and parents, whanau andcommunities. This will lead to ECE educators and management respecting and appreciatinglocal communities‟ values, needs, and aspirations as indicated by Desirable ObjectivesPractices (1998) 6-8. The child enters the ECE with a wealth of heritage. It is the educatorsand managements responsibilities to nurture and explore this heritage in consultation withparents, to expand the child‟s experience and appreciation.The concept of Kāinga is significance to the community, as it tends to create a network ofsupports and create institutions, which strengthened the Kāinga. There is a largeconcentration of Tongans in Auckland South. The Tongan community have build up variousreligious organisations, which help to bring Tongans together. This provides Tongans with asense of well being and belonging. Church organisations, apart from its religious significancehave also served to promote the use of the Tongan language through speaking and singing.In my own view, I believe Kāinga is a strong concept, which can work to our advantages orcause us to dwell in a practise that is out of date or in needs of some major reform to copewith the changing global world. Taufe‟ulungaki (2004) noted that there are signs that Pacificcommunities in New Zealand are at risk, suffering from social fragmentation, cultural erosionand increasing loss of identity. I would suspect that the concept of Kāinga had played a vitalrole in the cause of what Taufe‟ulungaki had identified. I am not discrediting the Kāingaconcept but I would be cautious in practising certain aspects of the Kāinga conceptparticularly pooling of resources and its consumption aspects or fua kavenga. Certain specialoccasions such as weddings and birthdays had cost some families a fortune thus putting theminto enormous debts affecting their ability to provide better care for their children‟s educationand health.In conclusion, it is our responsibility to review the Kāinga concept and to reform what isnecessary to change to accommodate for the changing nature of our socio-economicenvironment. Education is becoming more important as this is the key for Pasifika peopleand community to take charge and revitalise our community for our children and their future.ECE educators and management in consultation with parents, whanau, hapu, iwi, and Kāingacan continue to work in partnership to achieve this.Hulita Tangitau: 0829435 Page 3
  4. 4. References:Bott, E. (1982). Tongan society at the time of Captain Cook’s visits: Children at home and at school. New Jersey, United State of America: Ablex Publishing Company.Grijp, P,V,D. (1993). Islanders of the south: Production, kinship and ideology in the Polynesian kingdom of Tonga. Leiden, Netherland: Royal Institute of Linguistic and Anthropology.MacIntyre, L,I,K. (2008). Tongan mother’s contributions to their young children’s education in New Zealand: Lukuluku ‘a e kau fa’ē Tonga ki he ako ‘enau fānau iiki ‘i Nu’usila. New Zealand: Massey University.Ministry of Education. (1998). Quality in action- Te mahi whai hua: Implementing the revised statement of desirable objectives and practices in New Zealand early childhood services. Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media.Morton, H. (1996). Becoming Tongan. An ethnography of childhood. Childrens everyday lives; socialization in context, Hawai‟i, United States of America: University of Hawaii Press.Sefesi, F. (1998). Indigenous knowledge in Tongan education. Unpublished med research project. Wellington, New Zealand: Victoria University of Wellington.Taufe‟ulungaki, Dr „Ana (2004). Fonua: Reclaiming Pacific communities in Aotearoa. Unpublished keynote address at LotuMoui Pacific Health Symposium, Auckland, New Zealand: Counties Manukau District Health Board.Thaman, K.H. (1988). Ako and Faiako; educational concepts, cultural values and teacher’s role perceptions in Tonga, Unpublished PhD thesis. Suva, Fiji: University of the South Pacific.Tu‟itahi, S. (2009). Langa fonua: In search of success how a Tongan kainga strived to be socially and economically successful in New Zealand. Wellington, New Zealand: Massey University.Hulita Tangitau: 0829435 Page 4
  5. 5. Hulita Tangitau: 0829435 Page 5