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Sonya GachesSenior Lecturer (Early Childhood Education)
BSc ECE BSc ElEd (Kansas State) EdD (Arizona State)

Dunedin campus
Tel +64 3 479 8949


After growing up in the heartland of the United States, I received Bachelor's degrees in both early childhood and elementary education and began my teaching career with infants and toddlers.  I then continued my teaching career at a variety of early childhood levels for more than twenty years in Arizona.  I decided to pursue my doctorate and move to the university after working with many teaching practicum students and feeling a pull to research.  For six years, I was a teacher educator at the University of Arizona in Tucson and am now thrilled to be at the University of Otago, with the opportunity to work with many more teachers, children and families.

Teaching areas

  • Childhood studies, children's rights and participation
  • Child development
  • Curriculum and pedagogy in early childhood education and care
  • Assessment and documentation in early childhood

Research interests

  • Teachers' narratives of their lived classroom experiences, especially in regards to issues of social justice, inclusion and care
  • Children's rights and participation
  • Policy effects on teachers, children and families


Gaches, S., Carvalho, R., Curtis, A., & Gaffney, M. (2023). Mā te ahurei o te tamaiti e ārahi i ā tātou mahi: Let the uniqueness of the child guide our work [Panel discussion]. Proceedings of the 29th Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education (RECE) Conference : Pathways: Where we've been, where we are, where we want to go. (pp. 8). Retrieved from

Gaches, S. (2023). Sharing their ideas with the world: The views and voices of young children. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 21(1), 46-62. doi: 10.1177/1476718X221125593

Gaches, S. (2022). Building from At-Promise: Scholarship and mentoring for transformation. International Critical Childhood Policy Studies, 9(1), 37-48.

Gaches, S., Martin, R., Clark, B., & Paerata, M. (2022). Educating the teacher educators: Embedding Te Tiriti o Waitangi relationships in ongoing professional learning and development. Asia-Pacific Journal of Research in Early Childhood Education, 16(3), 99-121. doi: 10.17206/apjrece.2022.16.3.99

Gaches, S. (2022). Using critically reflexive ethics in practice to address issues of representation in children’s rights-based research. Global Studies of Childhood, 12(4), 374-386. doi: 10.1177/2043610620959679

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