Keeping pēpi safe, and supporting their mana atūroa, as they become more mobile and explore their world.
Much of the information in the 'Te Pihinga 2' booklet focusses on the growing pēpi and the fact that they’re very likely to be on the move and curious! This requires whānau to be ever watchful ensuring the environment is kept safe for that little person who is ‘into everything’.
Curiosity and exploration is what’s on top for pēpi, it is their main activity. Making and keeping their environment a safe place for them means they are free to learn about the world through looking, touching, banging and mouthing everything. Through this discovery learning they’re not only quenching their thirst for exploring but also building and strengthening brain connections in the process.
One of the strands or essential areas of learning and development in Te Whāriki, the New Zealand Early Childhood Curriculum aligns exploration with the term Mana Aotūroa. When "ao-tū-roa" is divided into its three separate sections, it relates to the infinity of the universe, and implies an extensive breadth of all the elements that make up the universe.
The relationship between people, the natural environments and other elements of the universe is referred to in many waiata and kōrero tawhito. Through these examples we can see that traditionally Māori maintained a positive and caring relationship with the universe. Exploration was on-going as tribes travelled far and wide to make new discoveries. There are other examples that refer to both spiritual and intellectual journeys of ‘self-discovery’.
When this tradition of fostering Mana Aotūroa, (exploration) is maintained, pēpi will grow in self-worth, identity, confidence and enjoyment. Combined with warm relationships where whānau encourage them to explore and to understand for themselves through guided, yet free play, pēpi will develop their own individual learning and creativity. Through this foundation of support and freedom to explore, pēpi will grow take on the many challenges that exist in the wider world.
In this Kaitiaki pēpi section tamaiti haututū refers to a child who is playful, curious, busy and active. Great attributes for a pēpi to learn through. Sometimes we may hear the word ‘haututū’ used to refer to ‘naughty’ or ‘mischievous’ children. This is an example of how views of certain behaviours and the way they’re responded to can influence how a child is seen by others and also how they learn to see themselves.
A child learns through ‘active exploration’ of the environment. Te Whāriki reminds us that the attitudes and expectations that are formed at an early age will continue to influence a child’s learning throughout their life.
At this stage of their development to describe pēpi as naughty or a mischief is not helpful or correct. A curious, busy and active child who is parented in ways described in ‘ngā tohu whānau [PDF, 222 KB]’ [LINK] with encouragement, understanding, and realistic expectations will be seen as bright, clever and intelligent.
The same characteristics viewed negatively, as pēpi being naughty, a nuisance or trouble, and responded to with that in mind will not benefit them at all. It’s well worth helping whānau to see their tamaiti haututū in a positive light. All the guidance and ideas for parenting a child during this stage in 'Te Pihinga 2' can help whānau if they’re having trouble seeing the positive side of this stage of development.
The legends of Māui are worth reading and thinking about here. Māui is described as a demi-god who was mischievous and very clever. It can be observed that this haututū managed to steal fire from his grandmother, slow the sun using the jawbone of his grandfather, fish up the Te Ika a Māui – the north island of Aotearoa, to name just a few of his adventures.
And although he may have been described as haututū, he would not have achieved these great feats without a lot of creativity and confidence!
Mana Aotūroa Āhuru Mōwai (PDF) [PDF, 460 KB]