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 – 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 April 2021.

Professional practices

  • GMA5 Philosophy statement
    • Governance, management and administration criterion 5

      A philosophy statement guides the service's operation.

      Documentation required:

      A written statement expressing the service's beliefs, values, and attitudes about the provision of early childhood education and care.


      The criterion aims to ensure that the service has information available for parents and staff about the philosophy that underpins their provision of early childhood education and care. This information supports the collaboration between parents and the service to achieve positive outcomes for children.

      Amended 21 July 2011

  • GMA6: Self-review and internal evaluation
    • Governance, management and administration criterion 6

      An ongoing process of self-review and internal evaluation helps the service maintain and improve the quality of its education and care.

      Documentation required:

      1. A process for reviewing and evaluating the service's operation (for example, learning and teaching practices, philosophy, policies, and procedures) by the people involved in the service. The process is consistent with criterion GMA4/GMA3, and includes a schedule showing timelines for planned review of different areas of operation.
      2. Recorded outcomes from the review and evaluation process. Outcomes show how the service has regard for the Statement of National Education and Learning Priorities (NELP) in its operation.
  • GMA7: Human resource management
    • Governance, management and administration criterion 7

      Suitable human resource management practices are implemented.

      Documentation required:

      Processes for human resource management, including:

      • Selection and appointment procedures
      • Job/role descriptions;
      • Induction procedures into the services;
      • A system of regular appraisal;
      • Provision for professional development;
      • A definition of serious misconduct; and
      • Discipline/dismissal procedures.

      The criterion informs the Ministry of Education about the management’s commitment and capability to implement human resource management practices that will recruit, manage and develop competent staff, as the ongoing quality of the staff engaging with and educating children is important in a quality service.

  • GMA7A: Safety checks
    • Government, management and administration criterion 7A

      All children’s workers who have access to children are safety checked in accordance with the Vulnerable Children Act 2014. 

      Safety checks must be undertaken and the results obtained before the worker has access to children. The results of the safety checks must be recorded and the record kept as long as the person is employed at the service. 

      Every children’s worker must be safety checked every three years. Safety checks may be carried out by the employer or another person or organization acting on their behalf.

      Documentation required:

      1. A written procedure for safety checking all children’s workers before they have access to children that meets the safety checking requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014; and
      2. A record of all safety checks and the results.