Choices offered, choices chosen in Pasifika early childhood education: A Christchurch Experience
Thesis DisciplinePacific Studies
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Current government policy aims to redress the persistent under-participation of Pasifika children in early childhood education by improving the standard and availability of services delivered through Pasifika early childhood initiatives. This research explores the rationale that underpinned the choices of sixteen New Zealand-born Samoan parents in Christchurch by using the qualitative method of in-depth interviews, structured around a questionnaire. Three primary themes emerged from the primary data: Pasifika early childcare provisions; identity issues; and the effect of generational changes in parenting styles. As first and second generation New Zealand-born Samoans, participants' preference vis-ā-vis the types of early childhood initiatives they accessed, reflected trans-generation differences between the original migrants and their offspring. Moreover, some participants and many of their children are of multi-ethnic heritage, exemplifying the changing face of Pasifika people in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Participants were divided into three groups. Findings indicate that Group A parents, who had the highest levels of social, cultural and economic capital, made informed decisions to access Pasifika Education and Childcare Centres in order to ensure their children were acculturated in Samoan language and culture. While there were multiple reasons why Group B parents withdrew their children from Pasifika services they were generally ambivalent about the effectiveness of Pasifika provisions in meeting the needs of their children. Group C parents did not access Pasifika preschool education; barriers to participation included their personal perceptions of alienation from the traditional Samoan community. Findings suggest that government policy formulation processes exclude the voices of stakeholders who demographers predict will comprise an increasingly large percentage of the population of Aotearoa/New Zealand. Pasifika parity in accessing early childhood education is contingent upon service provision that is conducive to meeting the needs of all Pasifika parents, including those who are marginalized by mainstream society and Pasifika communities.