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 preparation and eating spaces

  • PF15: Eating area
    • Premises and facilities criterion 15

      There is a safe and hygienic place for children attending to sit when eating.


      It is thought that this part of the regulation is rarely 'unpacked' by the Ministry of Education or the sector; although there is some anecdotal evidence that it has been interpreted to mean that a dedicated dining room must be provided. This criterion expands on and makes more explicit the requirement to make some provision regarding where children eat while attending the service, but does not dictate any particular arrangement.

  • PF16: Kitchen facilities
    • Premises and facilities criterion 16

      § Ø There are facilities for the hygienic preparation, storage and/or serving of food and drink that contain:

      • a means of keeping perishable food at a temperature at or below 4°C and protected from vermin and insects;
      • a means of cooking and/or heating food;
      • a means of hygienically washing dishes;
      • a sink connected to a hot water supply;
      • storage; and
      • food preparation surfaces that are impervious to moisture and can be easily maintained in a hygienic condition.

      The criterion aims to uphold children's safety by ensuring that there are facilities to support the hygienic preparation and storage of food.

  • PF17: Kitchen access
    • Premises and facilities criterion 17

      Kitchen and cooking facilities or appliances are designed, located, or fitted with safety devices to ensure that children cannot access them without adult assistance or supervision.


      Criterion aims to uphold children's safety by ensuring that they are unable to access hazardous equipment or activities (such as hot food/liquid being transferred from the stove to the bench by a staff member whilst preparing a meal) unless adequately supervised.