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Whakapapa: Culturally valid assessment in early childhood

Lesley Rameka


"E kore au e ngaro; he kākano i ruiruia mai i Rangiātea." I will never be lost; the seed was sown in Rangiātea. This traditional Māori proverb emphasises that the speaker knows his or her whakapapa links to the Māori spiritual homeland of Rangiātea, so is confident and secure with a positive future. Whakapapa provides a continuum of life from the spiritual world to the physical world, from the creation of the universe to people past, present and future. While whakapapa permits Māori to trace descent through to past generations, it also allows movement and growth into the future. Furthermore, the literal translation of whakapapa is “to place in layers”. The multiple layers of whakapapa involve interpretations that are fundamental to Māori values, beliefs and ways of knowing.

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