New book honours early childhood education trail blazers

The stories of those who fought for recognition, training and funding of early childhood education and teaching are recorded in a new book launched by Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand.

Through the personal stories of the 26 life members of Te Rito Maioha, the book tells the journey of the organisation and the growth of the childcare movement and early childhood education in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

“The vital roles of early childhood education and trained ECE teachers are thoroughly researched and accepted in New Zealand today, but a generation ago it was not so,” says Te Rito Maioha Pouhere Kaupapa Māori, Arapera Card, who is one of the book’s editors. 

“Our life members have shared their personal stories, the strain on their relationships, the financial struggles and stress of fighting for early childhood education when it was not yet recognised or valued by Government,” says Arapera Card. 

“These stories are from diverse backgrounds, cultures and political persuasions but they’re united by their belief that children and tamariki had a right to a quality early childhood education, that it was both necessary and good for children and families.”  

Te Rito Maioha Chief Executive Kathy Wolfe says the book is a valuable contribution to the collective knowledge of the ECE sector. 

“It’s valuable to teachers, educators, students, historians, bicultural organisations and all those still working hard for equitable recognition and funding for the early childhood education sector.” 

The book gives insights into: 

  • the women’s movement of the 1970s, feminism and the battle for quality childcare to liberate mothers who wanted or needed to work
  • the swing in political and public opinion towards support for childcare and early childhood education in the 1980s and 1990s 
  • the cultural shifts of early childhood education from mainly supporting Pākehā working mothers to embracing te ao Māori and the aspirations of growing communities from the Pacific Islands 
  • the experiences of wahine toa, such as Kahuwaero Chase Katene, who was punished as a child at school for speaking Māori and whose sustained mahi over many years helped embed biculturalism into early childhood education and teacher training today
  • the development of teacher training and recognition, from certificate to a diploma of teaching, which formed the foundations for Te Rito Maioha’s current degree and postgraduate qualifications in early childhood teaching. 

Printed and pdf versions can be ordered via Te Rito Maioha’s website. Printed copies are $44.95 including postage. Pdf versions are free of charge for Te Rito Maioha members or $19.95 for non-members.

More information:
For more info or to arrange an interview with Arapera Card, Kathy Wolfe or a life member from the book, contact:

Sarah Moodie - Lead Communications Advisor | Kaitohutohu Whakapā Matua

[email protected] 
Ph 04 471 6811 - ext 811 
Mobile 021 029 38058


Life stories on the frontline - Growing a childcare movement in Aotearoa  
Ngā kohinga kōrero a te aumangea - Kia mana te ara kōhungahunga ki Aotearoa.