Licensing criteria for kōhanga reo

Kōhanga reo run a total immersion te reo Māori whānau (family) programme for mokopuna (young children) from birth to six years of age to be raised within its whānau Māori, where the language of communication will be Māori.

The operation and decision making of each kōhanga reo are the responsibility of the whole whānau within the guidelines set down by Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust Board. The trust and the kōhanga reo whānau administer the kaupapa to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the mokopuna and the whānau and to ensure the survival of te reo Māori.

Kōhanga reo are currently chartered to Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust and licensed by the Ministry of Education under the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008.

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008(external link)

The Ministry does not provide guidance for the kōhanga reo licensing criteria. Guidance is available upon request directly from Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust.

Contact us – Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust(external link)

A copy of the criteria can be downloaded from the right-hand column.

The licensing criteria were last updated in September 2022.


For the purposes of these criteria:

‘Adults providing education and care’ means kaiako, teachers, supervisors, parent helpers, kaiawhina, fa’iaoga, or other adults who have a designated role of providing education and care to children at a service and are included in required adult:child ratios.

‘Assessment’ means the process of noticing children’s learning, recognising its significance, and responding in ways that foster further learning. It includes documenting some, but not all, of what and how children are learning in order to inform teaching, and make learning visible.

‘Culture’ means the understandings, patterns of behaviour, practices, and values shared by a group of people.

'Existing service' means an early childhood service deemed to have been issued a licence under section 319K(1) of the Education Act 1989 at 1 December 2008.

‘Medicine’ means any substance used for a therapeutic purpose and includes prescription and non-prescription preparations having the meaning assigned to these under Appendix 3.

‘Non-porous material’ means a material which does not allow water to pass through it.

‘Excursion’ means:

  • being outside the licensed premises whilst receiving education and care from the service; but
  • does not include an outing for the purposes of emergency evacuations, drills or the receipt of urgent medical attention;
  • regular excursion means – excursions that parents have agreed to at the time of their child’s enrolment, that are part of an ongoing planned and consistent routine of education and care; and
  • special excursion means – excursions that parents have agreed to prior to the excursion taking place, that are not a regular excursion;

‘Parent’ means:

  • the person (or people) responsible for having the role of providing day to day care for the child; and
  • may include a biological or adoptive parent, step-parent, partner of a parent of a child, legal guardian or member of the child’s family, whānau or other culturally recognised family group;

‘Philosophy’ means a statement that:

  • outlines the fundamental beliefs, values, and ideals that are important to the people involved in the service management, adults providing education and care, parents, families/whānau and perhaps the wider community;
  • identifies what is special about the service; and
  • is intended to be the basis for decisions about the way the service is managed and about its direction in the future;

‘Policy’ means a statement intended to influence and determine decisions, actions, and other matters.

‘Premises’ means the land and buildings (or parts of buildings) intended for the exclusive use as a licensed early childhood education and care centre during hours of operation.

‘Procedure’ means a particular and established way of doing something.

‘Process’ means a goal-directed, interrelated series of actions, events, procedures, or steps.

'Records’ means information or data on a particular subject collected and preserved.

'Regulation' means a regulation under the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008.

'Required adult:child ratio' means the adult:child ratio with which the service provider is required to comply under regulation 44(1)(b) or any direction by the Secretary under regulation 54(2).

'Service' means a kōhanga reo affiliated with Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust.

'Service curriculum’ means all of the experiences, interactions, activities and events – both direct and indirect, planned and spontaneous - that happen at the service. Teaching practices including planning, assessment, and evaluation form part of the service curriculum.

'Service provider' means the body, agency, or person who or that operates the early childhood education and care centre.

'Specified agency' means any government agency or statutory body that an early childhood education and care service is required to notify if there is a serious (or as defined) injury, illness, incident or allegation. This may include but is not limited to: the New Zealand Police; the Ministry of Health; Oranga Tamariki; Worksafe New Zealand; and the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand.