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.

Food and drink

  • HS19: Food and nutrition
    • Health and safety practices criterion 19

      Food is served at appropriate times to meet the nutritional needs of each child while they are attending. Where food is provided by the service, it is of sufficient variety, quantity and quality to meet the nutritional and developmental needs of each child. Where food is provided by parents, the service encourages and promotes healthy eating guidelines.

      Documentation required:

      A record of all food served during the service's hours of operation (other than that provided by parents for their own children). Records show the type of food provided and are available for inspection for 3 months after the food is served.


      The criterion aims to uphold the health, safety and wellbeing of children by ensuring the service meets their nutritional needs or alternatively encourages parents to do so. Requirement to keep records for 12 months has been reduced to 3, as this is considered to be a more useful minimum period of time. Record-keeping requirements serve two purposes;

      a) to demonstrate compliance with the criterion; and
      b) to provide useful information in the event of any allergic reactions that may develop in children attending.

  • HS20: Food hygiene
    • Health and safety practices criterion 20

      § Food is prepared, served, and stored hygienically.


      The criterion aims to uphold the health and safety of children by ensuring hygienic practices occur in regard to food.

  • HS21: Water supply
    • Health and safety practices criterion 21

      § An ample supply of water that is fit to drink is available to children at all times, and older children are able to access this water independently.


      The criterion aims to uphold the health and safety of children by ensuring they have access to a clean drinking water supply. Requirement for independent access is based on evidence that self-access to water enables children to maintain an adequate level of hydration.

  • HS23: Feeding infants
    • Health and safety practices criterion 23


      Infants under the age of 6 months and other children unable to drink independently are held semi-upright when being fed. Any infant milk food given to a child under the age of 12 months is of a type approved by the child's parent.