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.

Toilet and hand washing facilities

  • PF18: Number of toilets
    • Premises and facilities criterion 18

      There service has at least one toilet for every 1-15 persons. Persons are defined as children aged two and older and teaching staff that count towards the required adult:child ratio.


      The criterion ensures at least one toilet is provided for those present at the service. The reference to children aged two:

      • recognises that around this age children are starting to interact with toilets. Sole use of potties does not provide opportunities for this learning experience.
      • ensures services licensed exclusively for under two year olds are not disadvantaged by having to provide more toilets than would be of use for under two year olds.

      Amended 21 July 2011.

  • PF19: Handwashing facilities
    • Premises and facilities criterion 19

      § There is at least one tap delivering warm water (over an individual or shared handbasin) for every 15 persons (or part thereof) at the service (that is to say, children attending and adults counting towards the required adult:child ratio).


      The criterion aims to uphold hygienic practices by ensuring that handwashing facilities are adequate.

  • PF20: Toilet facilities
    • Premises and facilities criterion 20

      § Toilet and associated handwashing/drying facilities intended for use by children are:

      • designed and located to allow children capable of independent toileting to access them safely without adult help; and
      • adequately separated from areas of the service used for play or food preparation to prevent the spread of infection.

      The criterion aims to uphold hygienic practices by ensuring that the design/location of toilet/handwashing facilities encourages their use by children. The criterion is underpinned by the belief that independence in children is valued.

  • PF21: Hand-drying facilities
    • Premises and facilities criterion 21

      § There is a means of drying hands for children and adults that prevents the spread of infection.

  • PF22: Toilet privacy
    • Premises and facilities criterion 22

      § At least one of the toilets for use by children is designed to provide them with some sense of privacy.


      The criterion aims to uphold children's wellbeing by ensuring that some consideration is given to the need for privacy by some children, due to cultural or individual differences. The criterion also aims to prevent service providers from designing toilet areas purely from a cost-driven perspective.

  • PF23: Adult toilet
    • Premises and facilities criterion 23

      Ø There is a toilet suitable for adults to use.


      The criterion aims to ensure that adequate toilet provision is made for adults attending the service, thus upholding the wellbeing of children by reducing the possibility of inappropriate adult use of the children's facilities.