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Updated at 7:38 am on 9 May 2012
A group representing some early childhood education centres says a report on the sector's engagement with Maori families makes sobering reading.
The Education Review Office (ERO) has found that 90% of pre-schools are not fully respecting and recognising whanau and their culture.
Peter Reynolds from the Early Childhood Council says he has some issues with the data used in the report but overall it's a strong message that mainstream centres need to respond to.
He acknowledges childcare centres could go further in embracing tikanga.
Mr Reynolds says generally there is an effort to ensure that there is a very strong cultural element in how they operate, and the way in which they reflect te reo and other cultural components of the community in their service.
He says he suspects if ERO digs deeper it will find that the connection between these services and local iwi and whanau may not be as strong as it could be.
ERO staff say that while 78% of centres have good relationships with whanau, enjoying informal chats over a cup of tea does not mean they have a partnership with Maori.
Maori are sometimes not acknowledged in a way that promotes their unique place as tangata whenua.
Mihimihi (introductions) are rare, and few centres invite extended whanau to take part in sessions to welcome and settle in new children.
ERO says there needs to be considerable improvement in the way most early education childcare services work with whanau.
It recommends that the Ministry of Education finds ways for teachers to undergo further training to build genuine links with whanau, hapu and iwi.
ERO canvassed 374 early childhood education centres before compiling its report. The office studied mainstream centres rather than kohanga reo.
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