Ketekete Mai! Make a noise for ECE!

ECE Conference | 24 - 26 August 2023 | Wellington

What a conference. Our aim was to make this a once in a lifetime experience, where everyone’s kete was filled with new ideas and concepts that focused on how kaiako can make ECE the best it can possibly be for the wide range of tamariki that come through our doors each day. 

We also wanted to ensure that the workshops covered a wide range of topics, where kaiako could find new and inspiring ways to enhance their practice. However, we also wanted to make this conference fun, and mirror how ‘play’ as a learning experience is ultimately the best way to learn. And from the initial feedback, the conference was unanimously viewed as a positive, uplifting and thoroughly fun experience. From the opening keynote of the hilarious Michele A’Court, to the closing ‘So what, and what’s next’ from our hosts Toni and Robin, the conference was a blast. If you wish to watch the extended conference video put together by our conference partners Childspace, please watch it here.

While it’s almost hopelessly impossible to pick out the highlights, here’s a couple of moments from the four days of fun. 

We are Warriors 

Marc Battle travelled all the way from Canada to take part in this conference. He started his keynote with a song but by the end we were all singing the same tune, focused on how we as kaiako can reach that ‘hard to reach child’, how we can use free play to ignite the wonder of children and allow them to reach their potential in situations where too much structure holds them back.  

The Hikoi to Parliament 

Billed as a ‘playful protest’, delegates prepared by learning chants, songs and marched from Te Papa to the Beehive with giant baby puppets, beautifully painted (and with correct grammar) signage and delivered over 7,000 signatures to MPs asking for a better ratio of one teacher to four children under three. The petition made TVNZ, Newshub, Maori TV and Stuff. Have a look at Newshub’s footage here. Delegates then made their way into Parliament for a lively speech and Q&A sessions with Labour, National, Act, The Greens and Te Pāti Māori. 

Maggie Dent 

Maggie hails from Australia, and her experience as an international speaker was clear to everyone. Her presentation focused on letting children play freely and how to create the optimal opportunities for play. Maggie has also provided some wonderful resources which delegates can download from the online conference app – Whova. These will remain available for three months. 

The ukulele orchestra and other fun entertainment 

What a fun way to waiata our guests and speakers. Robin and Toni led this eclectic musical monstrosity that filled the auditorium with wonderful sounds, while sketches and premade videos brought down the house with a range of hilarious scenarios from an ECE audit from multiple government departments, to a sendup of the daily Covid announcements from the podium of truth in the beehive. Download the amazing ukulele waiata resource here. 

The 60th Birthday Party 

What a way to conclude events at Te Papa. The dancefloor hosted limbo, dance off competitions and a massive game of musical chairs which saw delegates win some fantastic prizes. There were games and activities scattered all around the venue from ping pong, to pillow fighting and a wonderful photobooth! We even had a gigantic 60th Cake for Te Rito Maioha! 

There were so many other highlights, from the launch of the new Te Rito Maioha Book, the twenty workshops, the seven keynotes, the scavenger hunt, the powhiri, the no-host-dinners, the trade fair and the centre tours. Hopefully the photos give you a sense of the fun and ongoing exchange of ECE information and practice that was occurring everywhere. 

Both the Childspace and Te Rito Maioha Teams loved being able to work on this collaborative and inspiring project, and we thankyou all for your kind comments throughout the event and for your support to make this as one of our attendees said, ‘the best conference they’ve ever attended’.