Network Management for licensed early childhood services

Learn about the Ministry of Education’s upcoming Network Management function.

This page provides information about the new network management provisions for licensed early childhood services that come into effect on 1 February 2023. If you want to establish a licensed service from 1 February 2023, these requirements will apply to you. This page will be regularly updated to notify you of legislative changes following consultation.

In He taonga te tamaiti: Every child a taonga - The Early Learning Action Plan 2019-2029, the Government set an objective for early learning services to be part of a planned and coherent education ecosystem that is supported, accountable and sustainable. Network management is one of the actions designed to support this objective, as it establishes a new process to manage the supply of new early childhood services.

From 1 February 2023 anyone wanting to operate a new licensed early childhood service will need to apply for network management approval from the Minister of Education before applying for licensing. Network management is set out in sections 17 and 18 of the Education and Training Act 2020 (the Act).

There are two key parts to network management. An applicant must demonstrate that:

  1. there is a need for a new service of the type and location you are offering,
  2. they are suitable (fit and proper), capable to provide a service, and have sufficient finances.

Under network management every applicant will need to outline:

  • information relevant to the National and Regional Statements,
  • relevant attributes of the areas to be served (including community need and availability of services),
  • capability to provide the service,
  • suitability to provide the service (including being fit and proper),
  • financial position,
  • licensing history, and
  • any other matters that the Minister of Education requires.

The intention is for network management to only apply to licensed early childhood services.

Network management is part of Tranche Two of the Early Learning Regulatory Review. You can read more about the Review here: 

Early Learning Regulatory Review

How will network management work?

Network management phase

An applicant will need to submit an application to the Ministry of Education. The Secretary for Education will assess if the applicant meets the fit and proper test and assess financial viability. If the applicant is considered fit and proper, the assessment of fit and proper and financial viability will be provided to the Minister.

The Minister will decide whether to approve the application, enabling the applicant to apply for a licence. The Minister of Education will consider the Secretary’s assessment and will also consider matters such as alignment with the National and Regional Statements, community need and availability of services, financial position and licensing history. Anyone wishing to establish a new licensed early childhood service needs to go through network management, even if they already operate another service.

Licensing phase

Following network management approval when the service is ready to start operating, the approved applicant will apply to the Secretary for Education for a licence.

Note: Only approved applicants and their governance members can apply for a licence. Network approval does not guarantee the applicant will be granted a licence later. After receiving network approval, the applicant still needs to meet all the application requirements set out in the licensing regulations and maintain their fit and proper status.

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008 - Legislation New Zealand(external link)


We have consulted twice on network management, most recently on the priorities for National and Regional Statements and policy for new regulations (between 14 April and 2 June 2022). More information about the consultation feedback will be announced soon. The consultation document is available on the Education Conversation website: Network management public consultation document [1,975 KB, PDF](external link)

From 8 September to 13 October 2021, the Ministry of Education consulted on nine proposals to further support network management. The proposals were well supported from the 101 survey responses and 19 written submissions received.

Discussion document - New policy settings for network management - Kōrero Mātauranga(external link)

You can read a summary of consultation feedback in the consultation report.

Network Management consultation report [PDF, 428 KB]

Papers for the Minister of Education and Cabinet will be uploaded to this webpage as they become available.

Changes being made to the Act

Following the consultation in 2021, the Government has agreed the main policy changes for network management. These changes are set out in the Education and Training Amendment Bill (No 2) 102-2 (2021), Government Bill Contents – New Zealand Legislation(external link) that was recently reported back by the Education and Workforce Select Committee and in an additional Supplementary Order Paper (SOP 162) – link).

The Bill and SOP:

  1. Extend the period that network management can be issued for, from two years to three years [new].
  2. Exclude kōhanga reo and other Māori immersion services from the requirement to seek network management approval [new].
  3. Introduce National and Regional Statements for network management.
  4. Clarify that some factors that the Minister of Education (the Minister) must take into account as part their decision-making role need only be assessed at a high level.
  5. Shift the initial administrative assessments of suitability of the applicant to the Secretary for Education and provides for a right of appeal of this assessment.
  6. Strengthen the test of applicant suitability, by strengthening the fit and proper assessment by the Secretary for Education and introducing a new capability assessment by the Minister of Education.
  7. Introduce other provisions to provide transparency about the process, such as imposing conditions of approval and specifying when extensions would be considered.
  8. Provide for transitional provisions, and consequential amendments to the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008 to ensure consistency across the Act and regulations.

Regulatory Impact Statements

More information

Frequently asked questions about network management can be found below.  These will be kept under review and updated as more information on network management becomes available.

Network Management FAQs

If you have any questions or want more information about network management, email:

If you have any questions about licensing or how network management might apply to a new service, contact your local Ministry of Education office.

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback