Aotearoa New Zealand Within Global Trends in ECEC Policy

Part of the International Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Development book series (CHILD, volume 24)


Aotearoa New Zealand is distinguished for its social justice foundations, its worldwide leadership in the early suffrage of women and its radical policies in response to economic and social problems following the Great Depression. Yet in a curious reversal of liberal trends, in recent years it is also marked for its extreme neoliberal policies applied in the 1980s and 1990s across most areas of interest to the state. Inequities in wealth distribution and access to basic education, health and social services have been a result. In this chapter, I discuss the social justice foundations and struggles within the early history of Aotearoa New Zealand to set a scene for the development of ECEC (early childhood education and care) and the curriculum, where advocacy by organisations and individuals played an influential role. Neoliberal ideologies swept Aotearoa New Zealand in the 1980s and had major impacts on the social context of society. New right economic theory was applied to reforms in education and particularly to the ECEC sector, which became increasingly privatised. ECEC policy has taken different turns since then, paralleling changes in political leadership, with a marked shift from 1999 to 2008 from minimal state support to a supportive state where providing ECEC is seen as a co-operative effort amongst the state, families, teachers and community. This saw positive moves to conceptualising ECEC as a universal public good, only to be unravelled by a right-leaning government from 2009 to 2017 that focused attention on priority children. A new government, elected in November 2017, holds out promise for tackling the big issues of child poverty, environmental climate change, inadequate housing and poor health services. Education is on the agenda, and promising moves have already happened in schools and tertiary education that signal a shift to a strongly privileged public education system. ECEC policy is still to be unravelled and enacted. This book points the directions for what policy to support a democratic system of ECEC might possibly look like.


Early Childhood Education And Care (ECEC) ECEC Policy Aotearoa Zealanders Social Justice Foundations 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationThe University of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

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