2024 Conference - Waikato University 25th - 27th November - call for abstracts now open


Poipoia te kakano kia puawai

Nurture the seed and it will blossom

The Early Childhood Special Interest Group (SIG) has been established for early childhood professionals to share research and explore topics for the early childhood sector in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is anticipated that participants will use the SIG as a means to connect and collaborate with colleagues from Aotearoa and internationally. The primary aim of the SIG is to create opportunities for members to share research in a supportive environment in order to build research capacity and nurture emergent and early researchers in the sector.

The Early Childhood SIG advocates for growth and development of early childhood research, recognising its integral role in wider educational research and its significance as an informational resource for the sector. We encourage early childhood researchers to share their work within early childhood circles and across wider education communities. Our support extends across a broad range of research topics and methodologies, welcoming contributions from a diverse group of researchers including practising early childhood educators, lecturers and scholars at universities and training institutes, students and student teachers, primary school teachers, educators in extension education services, families of young children, and other professionals with an interest in early childhood education.


In 2016 the Early Childhood Education SIG launched two awards.

The Lyn Foote Award for Student Research in Early Childhood Education recognises a current NZARE member who has completed a high-quality masters or doctoral thesis.

The Judith Duncan Award for Early Childhood Research is given to an NZARE member who has made notable contributions to the field of early childhood education and care through the conduct of high-quality research.For more information visit the Awards page.

Early Childhood Journal Links

2024 Convenors

Alexandra Gunn

Alex Gunn is a professor of education at Te Kura Ākau Taitoka | University of Otago College of Education. An early childhood teacher by profession, Alex now teaches, conducts research, and supports policy and practice development in a range of early childhood topics.

Sonya Gaches

Sonya Gaches is Pūkeka Matua Senior Lecturer of education at Ōtākou Whakaihu Waka Te Kura Ākau Taitoka | University of Otago College of Education after spending over 25 years as an early childhood educator in the United States. Sonya’s teaching and research interests include teaching/learning experiences in the early childhood education community, children’s rights, and how these interact with policies and practice, locally and in international contexts.

Roberta Carvalho

Roberta Carvalho is a senior professional practice fellow at Te Kura Ākau Taitoka |The University of Otago College of Education. Roberta is an early childhood kaiako who now teaches in the ITE and Masters programmes. Roberta’s research interests are in professional learning and culturally responsive practices in the ECE context.

Jenna Lee Pfeifer

Jenna-Lee Pfeifer is a graduate of Te Kura Ākau Taitoka | University of Otago College of Education’s Master of Teaching and Learning program. Recently she completed a dissertation exploring the decolonisation of early childhood educator’s practice through arts-based methods and is looking forward to expanding on this research in a PhD. Jenna-Lee’s research interests include the decolonisation of early childhood education and teaching pedagogies, culturally sustaining education, and arts-based education research.

Kate McAnelly

Kate McAnelly is the Mātanga Ārahi | Lead Practitioner of Tūranga mō ngā Mokopuna, the not for profit PLD consultancy she founded in late 2021 to support the strengthening of rights-focused, mana enhancing inclusive practice in early childhood kaiako. She is a fully certificated early childhood kaiako, and proudly continues to teach part-time alongside her Tūranga mō ngā Mokopuna mahi. Kate's research interests include inclusive early childhood curriculum, pedagogies and learning environments, disabled children's childhood studies, the sociology of diverse childhoods, neurodivergence and trauma informed practice, and the politics of inclusive education in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Melanie Audier

Melanie Audier is a PhD Candidate at Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury, Te Kaupeka Ako | Faculty of Education currently working toward the completion of her thesis exploring kaiako mentalisation in their interactions with infants. Alongside her research Melanie is a certified teacher, a Centre Advisor for Playcentre, and a Professional Practice Lecturer. Melanie’s research interests include mentalisation, developmental psychology, social and emotional development, teacher education, and ECE policy and advocacy.

Michael Gaffney

Kia ora, I am a member of Te Kura Kōhukahuka team within Te Kura Ākau Taitoka at Ōtākou Whakaihu Waka. Over the thirty years since I first joined NZARE my interests in children’s rights, education policy, research methods, disability and inclusion have shifted toward the younger tamariki and their whānau. Contact: michael.gaffney@otago.ac.nz