Social, cultural, and ecological justice in the age the Anthropocene: A New Zealand early childhood care and education perspective

Open access


Educators have an ethical responsibility to uphold the wellbeing of the children, families and communities that they serve. This commitment becomes even more pressing as we move into the era of the Anthropocene, where human induced climate changes are disrupting the planet’s systems, threatening the survival of not only humans, but of eco-systems and the earth’s biodiversity. This paper draws upon examples from Aotearoa (New Zealand) to demonstrate ways in which a critical pedagogy of place informed by local traditional knowledges can inform early childhood education whilst also enhancing dispositions of empathy towards self and others, including more-than-human others.


  • Alberts, P. (2011). Responsibility towards life in the early anthropocene. ANGELAKI. Journal of the theoretical humanities, 16(4), 5-17.

  • Battiste, M. (2004). Animating sites of postcolonial education: Indigenous knowledge and the humanities. Paper presented at the Annual meeting of the Canadian Society for Studies in Education,, Winnipeg, MB, May.

  • Berkes, F. (2009). Indigenous ways of knowing and the study of environmental change. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 39(4), 151-156.

  • Bowers, C. (2008). Why a critical pedagogy of place is an oxymoron. Environmental Education Research, 14(3), 325-335.

  • Calderon, D. (2014). Uncovering settler grammars in curriculum. Educational Studies: A Journal of the American Educat ional Studies Association, 50(4), 313-338.

  • Cardinal, L. (2001). What is an indigenous perspective? Canadian Journal of Native Education, 25(2), 180-182.

  • Comber, B. (2011). Making space for place-making pedagogies: Stretching normative mandated literacy curriculum. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 12(4), 343-348.

  • Drewery, M. (2004). Koro’s medicine. Wellington: Huia.

  • Duhn, I. (2006). The making of global citizens: Traces of cosmopolitanism in the New Zealand early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 7(3), 191-202.

  • Duhn, I. (2012). Places for pedagogies, pedagogies for places. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 13(2), 99-107.

  • Education Review Office. (2012). Partnership with whānau Māori in early childhood services. Wellington: Education Review Office. Retrieved from

  • Education Review Office. (2013). Working with Te Whāriki. Wellington: Education Review Office. Retrieved from

  • Farquhar, S. (2012). Narrative identity and early childhood education. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 44(3), 289-301.

  • Furman, G. C., & Gruenewald, D. A. (2004). Expanding the landscape of social justice: critical ecological analysis. Educational Administration Quarterly, 40(1), 47-76.

  • Gorenflo, L. J., Romaine, S., Mittermeier, R., A., & Walker-Painemilla, K. (2012). Co occurrence of linguistic and biological diversity in biodiversity hotspots and high biodiversity wilderness areas. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(21), 8032-8037. Retrieved from

  • Greenwood, D. A. (2008). A critical pedagogy of place: From gridlock to parallax. Environmental Education Research, 14(3), 336-348.

  • Greenwood, D. A. (2013). A critical theory of place-conscious education. In R. B. Stevenson, M. Brody, J. Dillon, & A. E. J. Wals (Eds.), Research on environmental education (pp. 93 100). New York: AERA/Routledge.

  • Greenwood, D. A. (2014). Culture, environment, and education in the anthropocene. In M. P. Mueller, D. J. Tippins, & A. J. Stewart (Eds.), Assessing schools for generation R (Responsibility). A guide for legislation and school policy in science education (pp. 279-292). Dordrecht: Springer.

  • Haraway, D. (2012). Awash in urine: DES and Premarin® in multispecies response- -ability. WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly, 40((1 & 2)), 301-316.

  • Hooks, B. (2009). Belonging. A culture of place. New York: Rutledge.

  • Jamison, L. (2014). The empathy exams. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Graywolf Press.

  • Johnson, J. T. (2012). Place-based learning and knowing: Critical pedagogies grounded in Indigeneity. GeoJournal, 77, 829-836.

  • Kaiser, B. M., & Thiele, K. (2014). Diffraction: Onto-epistemology, quantum physics and the critical humanities. Parralax, 20(3), 165-167.

  • McInerney, P., Smyth, J., & Down, B. (2011). ‘Coming to a place near you?’ The po litics and possibilities of a critical pedagogy of place-based education. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 39(1), 3-16.

  • New Zealand Ministry of Education. (1996). Te Whāriki. He whāriki mātauranga mō ngā mokopuna o Aotearoa: Early childhood curriculum. Wellington: Learning Media. Retrieved from

  • Penetito, W. (2009). Place-Based education: Catering for curriculum, culture and community. New Zealand Annual Review of Education, 18:2008, 5-29.

  • Pihama, L., Reynolds, P., Smith, C., Reid, J., Smith, L. T., & Te Nana, R. (2014). Positioning historical trauma theory within Aotearoa New Zealand. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, 10(3), 248-262.

  • Ritchie, J., Duhn, I., Rau, C., & Craw, J. (2010). Titiro Whakamuri, Hoki Whakamua. We are the future, the present and the past: caring for self, others and the environment in early years’ teaching and learning. Final Report for the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative. Wellington: Teaching and Learning Research Initiative. Retrieved from

  • Ritchie, J., & Skerrett, M. (2014). Early childhood education in Aotearoa New Zealand: History, pedagogy, and liberation. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

  • Smith, L. T. (1999/2012). Decolonizing methodologies. Research and indigenous peoples. London and Dunedin: Zed Books Ltd and University of Otago Press.

  • Sommerville, M. J. (2010). A place pedagogy for ‘global contemporaneity’. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 42(3), 326-344.

  • Stewart-Harawira, M. (2005). Cultural studies, indigenous knowledge and pedagogies of hope. Policy Futures in Education, 3(2), 153-163.

  • Tito, J., Pihama, L., Reinfeld, M., & Singer, N. (Eds.). (2007). Matarakau. Ngā kōrero mō ngā rongoā o Taranaki. Healing stories of Taranaki. Taranaki: Karangaora.

  • Tracey, N. (2013). Working at the interface of education and trauma in an Indigenous pre-school. The importance of “deep soul listening” In M. O’Loughlin (Ed.), Psychodynamic perspectives on working with children, families and schools (pp. 133-152). Plymouth: Jason Aronson, Rowman & Littlefield. Waitangi Tribunal. (n.d.). Rongoā (traditional Māori healing). Ko Aotearoa Tēnei - Factsheet 8. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal. Retrieved from

  • Walker, R. (2004). Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou. Struggle without end (revised ed.). Auckland: Penguin.

  • Wehi, P. M. (2009). Indigenous ancestral sayings contribute to modern conservation partnerships: examples using Phormium tenax. Ecological Applications, 19(1), 267-275.

  • Wehi, P. M., & Wehi, W. L. (2010). Traditional plant harvesting in contemporary fragmented and urban Landscapes. Conservation Biology, 24(2), 594-604.

  • Wehi, P. M., Whaanga, H., & Roa, T. (2009). Missing in translation: Maori language and oral tradition in scientific analyses of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK). Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 39(4), 201-204.

  • Williams, D. (2001a). Crown policy affecting Maori knowledge systems and cultural practices. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal. Retrieved from

  • Williams, D. (2001b). Matauranga Maori and taonga. The nature and extent of Treaty rights held by Iwi and Hapu in Indigenous flora and fauna, cultural heritage objects, valued traditional knowledge. Wellington: Waitangi Tribunal. Retrieved from

Journal of Pedagogy

The Journal of University of Trnava

Journal Information

CiteScore 2016: 0.17

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 0.190
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.185


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 30 30 30
PDF Downloads 19 19 19