Licensing criteria for centre-based ECE services

Section 10 of the Education and Training Act 2020(external link) defines an early childhood education and care centre as a premises that is used regularly for the education or care of 3 or more children (not being children of the persons providing the education or care or children enrolled at a school who are being provided with education or care before or after school) under the age of 6 years by day (or part of a day) but not for any continuous period of more than 7 days.

Centre-based ECE services have a variety of different operating structures, philosophies and affiliations, and are known by many different names – for example, Playcentres, early learning centres, Montessori, childcare centres, Kindergartens, crèches, preschools, a’oga amata, Rudolf Steiner etc.

These centres are licensed in accordance with the Education and Training Act 2020 under the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008(external link), which prescribe minimum standards that each licensed service must meet. Licensing criteria are used to assess how the centres meet the minimum standards required by the regulations.

For each criterion there is guidance to help centres meet the required standards.

The publication of the criteria on its own can be downloaded as a PDF [PDF, 1.8 MB] and printed. 

The licensing criteria were last updated in September 2022. 


C5 Acknowledgement of tangata whenua

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Curriculum criterion 5

      The service curriculum acknowledges and reflects the unique place of Māori as tangata whenua. Children are given the opportunity to develop knowledge and an understanding of the cultural heritages of both parties to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

      Documentation required


      This criterion helps to ensure the service curriculum supports all children to develop an understanding and appreciation of New Zealand’s bi-cultural heritage.

  • Guidance
    • Guidance

      Any examples in the guidance are provided as a starting point to show how services can meet (or exceed) the requirement. Services may choose to use other approaches better suited to their needs as long as they comply with the criteria.

      Te Tiriti o Waitangi plays a significant role in the revitalisation of Māori language and culture, an important part of Aotearoa/New Zealand culture. Early childhood services are a vital link to ensuring all New Zealand children, regardless of ethnicity, are given the opportunity to learn about and experience, in a very real way, both Pākeha and Māori culture.

      Te Whāriki  is a bilingual, bicultural document which reflects Māori views of children’s learning and development, and includes many strategies for implementing bicultural programmes.

      The service curriculum will be developed in partnership with Māori to provide genuine opportunities for participation in programme development, enhancing outcomes for Māori children. Programmes will support the revitalisation of te reo and tikanga Māori.

  • Practice
    • Practice

      Examples of what this might look like in practice:

      • Te Reo Māori is spoken, heard, and visible across the environment and used for a range of purposes
      • Children learn about the history of local hapū and iwi through meaningful experiences
      • Educators use teaching strategies which reflect tikanga Māori, including narrative, song, art, and movement
      • Educators integrate te reo me tikanga Māori into all aspects of the service curriculum, including routines, rituals and regular events
      • Children are aware of their own ancestral heritage and the history of Aotearoa/New Zealand
      • Children display a strong sense of environmental awareness and care, including consideration of both the natural (living) world and the physical (non-living) environment
      • The service philosophy and practices reflect commitment to a bicultural partnership.

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      Things to consider:

      • What do we understand about the unique place of Māori as tangata whenua? How is this visible within our environment?
      • How do we ensure that management and educators understand the principle of partnership inherent in Te Tiriti o Waitangi?
      • How is this partnership reflected in the policies and practices of the service as identified in the governance and management criteria?
      • How does our service encourage and/or support educators to extend their knowledge and use of te reo me tikanga Māori
      • How are we communicating and working in partnership with Māori? How is this determined? Is it effective? How do we know?
      • Do we know the history of and/or understand the protocols of our local hapū and iwi?

  • Gallery