7th Summit Report

 7th ECMENZ Summit 

This years 2013 ecmenz summit was hosted by Albert Samuel and his family and community at the Cook Island Centre, Flaxmere in Hastings. The Summit began officially on Saturday morning with a very warm Cook Island welcome by our hosts.

Adam Buckingham, ECMENZ president, delivered his opening address for the two day gathering celebrating the successes i.e. face book, the creation of an ECmenz brochure, two newsletters, the strategic plan, Sarah s Farquar nation wide research and the increase in mens participation in NZ ECE. However he also reminded us of the decrease of men attending of regional networks, the decrease in ECMenz  member ship and the need to build a united pathway to achieve our goals.

The AGM for the organisation of ECMENZ was held at the beginning of this years summit with the election of officers, committee members. There were no changes to existing structure of the ECMENZ committee. Peter Visser then presented the ECMenz Strategic Plan with the new Vision and Mission statements. The existing six goals as presented on the website have now been reduced to three clear goals. The objectives under each of the goals were also looked at in more detail. Peter will finalise these with out comes.

This year’s key note speaker, the founder of ECMENZ, Sarah Farquar, began her address with a brief history of her early involvement with the issue of the lack of men in ECE. She told us of how an interview with Kim Hill on National Radio lead to a snow ball effect of public interest in this issue. She then organised the first national meeting of men working  in ECE Christchurch giving it the unique title of a mens summit. She presented the latest national statistics celebrating the fact that we have now gone over the 2% threshold with 49 more men working in ECE . Sarahs nation wide e-survey showed that centres and staff do want more men and are willing to look at ways to achieve this. Throughout her address she put forward the idea that the concern we needed to present to the government and New Zealand people was the lack of gender diversity of those working in ECE and that a more diverse work force in ECE was linked to increased learning for children.

The second part of her address focused on the knowledge she gained from her invitation to be a presenter at a Men in ECE conference in Berlin. Some of the ideas she gained from this conference were:

  • Recognising that there are people who are interested in advocating for more men in ECE
  • The need to be able to persist through obstacles
  • Needing the cooperation of women
  • Providers needed to be involved  and invited
  • The need to be political to make change
  • The Government needs a target figure to achieve
  • Having more publicity campaigns
  • Looking at the obstacles for men participating in ECE and putting forward a range of masculinities.
  • Looking at boys in education
  • Targeting groups of ECE centres  and having pilot programmes for men
  • Look at the research project created in Germany
  • Having a coordination service that is able to field calls about training for men from services and providing PDL
  • Publicity campaigns e.g.  t-shirts of with philosopher musician artist etc.

The afternoon featured an origami and floristry workshops and visits to some centres in the region- Te Whare Aroha o Nga Mokopuna, Iron Gate Kindergarten and  Red wood Kindergarten and Day care centre.

That evening saw us back at the Cook Island Centre for a huge feast with entertainment provided. This includeded a local Cook Island group of children and young people performing traditional song and dance, the Wanganui pasifica group performing the early childhood men performing a variety of rehearsed and spontaneous songs. A wonderful fun filled evening had by all.

On Sunday morning Garth Armstrong  from the Wellington Kindergarten Association spoke to us about the Y Men project. Initially eightyoung Maori and Pasifica men from Wainuiomata were given a ten week work experience in the local kindergartens. Many of those involved in the organisation of this project had local passion and whanaunga tanga in mind. They began the project knowing that this was not going to fail that at the very least these guys were going to leave with an enhanced experience of the world. Garth emphasised the importance of wrap around support given to the men on the programme. The men were picked from their homes in the morning, they attended training as part of the programme that included cultural performance, and understanding children. He was able to show us many photos of the men working with the children and talked about some of the wonderful benefits that came out of this project for all. As a result fourmen are doing their training with Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa. The Wellington Kindergarten Association have begun a 2013 project supported by the Todd foundation.

Many thanks to Albert Samuel, his mother Taime Samuel and the Flaxmere Cook Island Community for helping organise and host the 2013 ECmenz summit.