ECAC minutes December 2023

The Early Childhood Advisory Committee (ECAC) met from 9:15am to 11:45am on 6 December 2023 in an online Teams meeting.


ECAC Members

  • Kelly Seaburg, Advocates for Early Learning Excellence
  • Catherine Neill, Auckland Kindergarten Association (AKA)
  • Rebecca Chatwin, Barnardos New Zealand, Fiona Hughes BestStart Educare
  • Liza Iliffe, Christian Early Childhood Education Association of Aotearoa
  • Simon Laube, Early Childhood Council
  • Lee Jones, Early Intervention Association of Aotearoa New Zealand (EIAANZ)
  • Raewyn Overton-Stuart, Home Early Learning Organisation (HELO)
  • Nicola Woollaston, Hospital Play Specialists
  • Cathy Wilson, Montessori Aotearoa New Zealand (MANZ)
  • Allanah Clark, NZEI Te Riu Roa
  • Geena Fagan, NZEI Te Riu Roa
  • Larce Kippen, NZ Home-based Early Childhood Education Association
  • Tere Gilbert, Ngā Puna Reo o Aotearoa
  • Jill Bond, NZ Kindergartens Inc.
  • Hellen PuhiPuhi, Pasifika Advisory Group 
  • Anna Steel, Playcentre Aotearoa
  • Karen Affleck, Steiner Education, Aotearoa
  • Ann Stewart, Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu, NZ Correspondence School
  • Heke Huata, Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust
  • Kathy Wolfe, Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood NZ.

ECAC guests

  • Hon. Erica Stanford, Minister of Education
  • Iona Holsted, Te Tumu Whakarae mō te Mātauranga| Secretary for Education.

Ministry of Education

  • Nancy Bell, Hautū | Deputy Secretary, Te Tai Runga (Chair)
  • John Brooker, General Manager, ECE and System Policy, Te Pou Kaupapahere | Policy
  • Ray McMillan, General Manager, Network and Regulatory, Te Pae Aronui | Operations (from 11am)
  • Paul Scholey, Senior Policy Manager, ECE and System Policy, Te Pou Kaupapahere | Policy
  • Elspeth Maxwell, Manager, Operational Policy Early Learning, Te Pae Aronui | Operations
  • Shona Humphrey, Manager, Network and Regulatory, Te Pae Aronui | Operations
  • Rachel Borthwick, Senior Analyst, Data & Insights, Te Pae Aronui | Operations
  • Siobhan Murray, Senior Policy Manager, System, Connections and Early Learning Policy, Te Pou Kaupapahere | Policy
  • Sarah Strong, Manager, ECE Operational Funding, Te Pae Aronui | Operations
  • Megan Hutchison, Chief Advisor, Early Learning, Te Tai Runga | South
  • Alessandra Bartlam, Principal Advisor, Network and Regulatory, Te Pae Aronui | Operations
  • Michelle Unuia, Principal Advisor, NZ Curriculum & Te Whāriki, Te Poutāhū | Curriculum
  • Lesley Bayliss, Private Secretary to the Minister of Education.


  • Kristen Sharma, Senior Advisor, Te Tai Runga | South (minutes).


  • Lesley Hoskin, Teaching Council of Aotearoa
  • Christine Hall, Early Childhood Leadership Group
  • Sandra Collins, Education Review Office.

Welcome, karakia and introductions

  • Nancy Bell welcomed the group. Tere Gilbert opened the meeting with a karakia.
  • Nancy noted two new members, Anna Steel (Playcentre Aotearoa) and Heke Huata (Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust), who introduced themselves to the group.
  • September minutes were confirmed.
  • Apologies were noted.

Minister of Education Erica Stanford

  • Nancy welcomed the Minister.
  • Minister Stanford emphasised her desire to stay connected to and be available for the early learning sector. Some members have been in touch with the Minister already.
  • The Minister recognised some of the stresses the sector was experiencing, and wanted to hear the group’s views on some short-term actions that could offer support while longer term changes were considered.
  • Members shared some ‘quick win’ ideas around funding and regulatory change, and the Minister indicated she would look to receive some advice on these from the Ministry.

Early Learning Action Plan update

Nancy explained that the Early Learning Action Plan dashboard runs until the end of 2023. We will discuss next steps and reporting with the Minister, with a view to refreshing the dashboard and timelines.

Megan Hutchison introduced the Early Learning Action Plan dashboard and highlighted:

  • The launch of Kōwhiti Whakapae at the end of September, which has been well received.
  • The establishment of Centre design, Environmental factors and Group size Advisory Panel (CEGAP), with terms of reference. It will have the initial meeting later this month. The list of members is expected to be published later this month.
  • Updated numbers in respect of some of the teacher supply strategy initiatives.
  • Context data: While the quarter-on-quarter figures show a reduction, the year-on-year comparison of participation figures is almost the same (increase of 117 children), There has been a shift towards education and care services and away from other service types.
  • We will have new census data and new Participation Intensity Measures (PIM) available soon which will update these sections of the context data.

A member asked about the reason for the high number of licence downgrades this quarter. It was noted that 85/123 were reclassifications of licences to provisional. A number were related to assessments undertaken after a change of management.

There was interest in knowing the breakdown of service types within the funding bands, and this was taken away as an action point.

A question was asked about action 3.9 (workforce integrating te reo Māori in early learning services) and the Te Ahu o te Reo Māori programme. It was confirmed that funding has been allocated, but continuation of the programme will be subject to Government decisions.

Members asked about population statistics of under 5-year-olds in relation to a conversation around the presentation on closures from the September meeting.  It was confirmed that the latest data set from Statistics New Zealand had been used for this calculation and this was regularly used for other measures. 

OECD Starting Strong survey

  • Rachel Borthwick introduced the TALIS starting strong survey, focusing on early learning leaders and kaiako. It aims to get good representation of types of services and across regions, and is open until the end of August 2024.
  • Rachel would like a steer from members about how best to engage with their services.
  • Members suggested Rachel send communications explaining the what/why/how of the survey which could be sent out to organisations’ memberships. Include a contact email.
  • Rachel is happy to discuss this further if members would like to get in touch.

Report: Person responsible changes

  • Paul Scholey, Elspeth Maxwell, Shona Humphrey (the presenters) thanked members who nominated people for the workshops, and those who participated. The workshops will help the Ministry understand the barriers services expect to face in implementing these requirements next year.
  • The presenters thanked members who nominated people for the workshops, and those who participated. The workshops will help the Ministry understand the barriers services expect to face in implementing these requirements next year.
  • The presenters talked through the engagement approach, including who the Ministry has engaged with and what they have heard so far.
  • The Ministry is yet to engage with Hospital based services and Pacific services. At a recent talanoa it was agreed to workshop with Pacific services in the new year.
  • Some discussion centred around the original concept of Person Responsible changes, and the extent to which the context may have changed since public consultation in 2021.
  • The feedback from the workshops and ECAC will also help the Ministry to be better positioned to provide further advice to the Minister on Person Responsible if requested.

Other business

A member brought up an issue with door handle heights affecting the ability of some centres to get a Building Warrant of Fitness (BWOF) renewed, due to increased concern around fire egress. Megan explained that the Ministry is working with MBIE, after their change of practice around BWOFs. Each situation will be worked through on a case-by-case basis, using a risk-based assessment to determine next steps. If there are any issues, services can come to the Ministry to work through the process.

A question was raised about the ECAC members’ email list being private. Some members wanted to be able to contact others in the group. The Ministry will email members to check if they are happy to have their emails shared.

Wrap up

The next operational meeting is 19 December 2023. Members agreed to keep the Quarterly ECAC meeting on 6 March 2024.

Nancy thanked members for their engagement and participation throughout the morning.

Meeting close

Tere Gilbert closed the meeting with a karakia.


  • By 6 March 2024: Provide data to show the breakdown of teacher-led centres on various funding bands (Megan Hutchison).
  • By 10 December 2023: Email ECAC members to check if they are happy for their email address to be circulated to other members (Kristen Sharma).

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback