Certification criteria for playgroups

Section 10 of the Education and Training Act 2020(external link) defines a playgroup as a group that meets on a regular basis to facilitate children's play and in respect of which—

  1. no child attends for more than 4 hours on any day; and
  2. more than half the children attending on any occasion have a parent or caregiver present in the same play area at the same time; and
  3. the total number of children attending on any occasion is not greater than 4 times the number of parents and caregivers present in the same play area at the same time.

Playgroups include Puna Kōhungahunga, cultural playgroups and community language playgroups.

Playgroups are certificated in accordance with the Education and Training Act 2020 under the Education (Playgroups) Regulations 2008(external link), which prescribe minimum standards that each certificated playgroup must meet. Certification criteria are used to assess how playgroups meet the minimum standards required by the regulations.

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

The publication of the criteria on its own can be downloaded as a PDF [PDF, 1.1 MB] and printed.

The certification criteria were last updated in September 2022.

HS5 Food hygiene

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Health and safety criterion 5

      Any food is prepared, served, and stored hygienically.


      The criteria aims to ensure hygienic food practices are maintained for the safety of children.


  • 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.

      Basic food hygiene is important to avoid outbreaks of food-borne illness at Playgroups.

      A Playgroup should provide enough fridge space to store chilled foods – including milk and yoghurt provided by parents for infants and children.

      Under The Food Act (2014)(external link), education and care services including playgroups that undertake minimal food handling (e.g. where very limited food is provided (cut fruit, biscuits etc) and where children bring their own lunchboxes) are only subject to the basic requirement to ensure food is safe and suitable.

      The Ministry of Primary Industries has developed some Food Safe guidance(external link) including a Food Safety Factsheet, as well as providing tips for food safety(external link). Check out also food safety rules on MPI website.(external link)