Network Management FAQs

Below is a collection of responses to some of the more frequently asked questions we have received from the sector about the implementation of network management.

Frequently asked questions

What are the current legal requirements for network management? 

  • Network management for licensed early childhood services has been part of the Education and Training Act 2020 since the legislation was enacted on 31 July 2020. Sections 17 and 18 provide an overview of network management while Section 2 states the commencement date of those sections.
  • Following feedback from the early learning sector about the disruption to developing new services caused by COVID-19, Cabinet has approved deferring the commencement date from 1 August 2022 until 1 February 2023. This will require an amendment to legislation currently going through the parliamentary process.  

Are there any proposed changes to the provisions? 

How can we continue to have our say on the development of network management policy and legislation?

What are you currently consulting on for network management?

  • We are currently consulting on the following areas:
    1. Priorities for National and Regional Statements
    2. Information required in applications for network management approval
    3. Processing timeframes for the Secretary of Education and Minister of Education completing assessments and making decisions, as relevant
    4. How official notice of network management approval will be given and its contents
    5. Clear processes for:
      • The Secretary completing assessments of fit and proper status and financial viability
      • Applying to amend the network management approval as anticipated by the legislation, such as the expiry date or conditions set.
    6. A register of network management approvals and revocations that would not be specified in these regulations

What is the purpose of network management?

  • The new network management process is intended to ensure high-quality, diverse, and sustainable early learning provision that meets the needs of communities across New Zealand. Government is concerned that there is an oversupply of early learning services in some areas, while other communities remain underserved. 

How will network management sit alongside the existing licensing process? 

  • The network management approval process is separate to the licensing process. Applicants would apply first for network management approval. If they receive approval from the Minister, when the service is ready to start operating, they can then apply to the Secretary for Education to be granted a probationary licence. If an applicant is granted network approval this does not guarantee that a licence will  subsequently be granted.

Are any prospective services exempt from network management?

The government has approved excluding the following Māori immersion services from the requirement to seek network management approval:

  • A kōhanga reo chartered to Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust
  • A standalone early childhood service teaching its curriculum through te reo
    Māori at or close to full immersion to develop high levels of Māori language
    proficiency and use, or
  • Māori immersion early childhood services that propose to teach in te reo Māori for the majority of the time and are affiliated to a gazetted peak body, or
  • Māori immersion early childhood services that propose to teach in te reo Māori for the majority of the time and will be provided by or associated with a gazetted iwi or Māori organisation.

These exemptions are still going through the legislative process through a further Supplementary Order Paper (SOP 162) on legislation.govt.nz website(external link).(external link)

What are the priorities for network management approval?

  • Priorities for network management approval will signal the need for certain types of early childhood services. These priorities will be published in National and Regional Statements and be factored into the decision-making process for network management approval.
  • Under the current proposals, the following service offerings will be priorities for network management approval:
    1. Māori bilingual and immersion services (that are not excluded from the requirement to seek network management approval)
    2. Hapū/iwi-owned services
    3. Services with a distinct Māori identity and culture
    4. Pacific bilingual and immersion services
    5. Pacific language and/or cultural services
    6. Language immersion services (non-English/Māori/Pacific)
    7. Services well-equipped for learning support needs
    8. Services well-equipped for migrants and former refugees
    9. Services planning to operate on a new school site
    10. Organisations funded by Targeted Assistance for Participation (TAP)
  • Where a proposed service meets one or more of the priorities it will score higher than a competing application that does not meet any priorities. However, meeting a national priority (or priorities) does not mean the service will automatically be approved for network management, as it may not meet other aspects of the National and Regional Statements (e.g., population growth) or the other requirements of network approval, such as the fit and proper assessment.

Will meeting the priorities be a prerequisite to getting network management approval?

  • No. Services applying in areas of under-provision (or where there is likely to be under-provision due to population growth) may still be approved despite not meeting the priorities. As such, meeting one or more of the priorities will not be a requirement for a prospective service to gain network management approval.

We feel like there hasn’t been enough time to prepare — is there a possibility of delaying the commencement of network management?

When does network management commence?

  • Government recently agreed to extend the commencement date by six months to 1 February 2023. The original commencement date was 1 August 2022.
  • The Education and Training Amendment Bill (No 2) includes a transitional provision that would allow applications for a licence to proceed under the Regulations without getting network management approval first if the Ministry receives the licence application by the time network management comes into effect (proposed as 1 February 2023 subject to legislative change) and all information and evidence requirements have been met. 

Can we apply for network management approval before the new commencement date of 1 February 2023?

  • Unfortunately, it is not possible to apply for network management approval before 1 February 2023 as this is when the new provision would commence.

When will application forms be available for us to apply for network management?

  • Application forms cannot be made available until we finalise all the policy settings for network management which is expected in September 2022. Following the current consultation, you will understand all the component parts to network management.

Can we still apply for licensing without going through network management approval? 

  • No, not unless you have submitted an application for a licence by the commencement date, which the Government has recently agreed to defer to 1 February 2023, together with all required information and evidence (including the building being signed off as complete). In that case, your complete application can be assessed without first needing to obtain network management approval.
  • If, however, you are not ready to apply for a license until the new commencement date of 1 February 2023 or later you will need to apply for network management approval from the Minister of Education. 

We’ve already started building our centre, but will not be ready to apply for a licence before 1 February 2023 — can we have some assurance that we will be granted network management approval? 

  • No, there is no guarantee that can be made regarding network management approval.
  • While there is no guarantee of obtaining a licence to operate under the current system, we appreciate that the new network management requirements add some perceived uncertainty into the process of establishing a new early childhood service. It is our intention to provide the sector with as much information as possible as the policy develops to enable potential providers to make decisions in consultation with their communities and investment partners. 

Will there be any transitional provisions for services who have had a build delayed due to factors out of their control (e.g., COVID-19)? 

  • Following feedback from the early learning sector about this, the Government has recently agreed to defer commencement of network management from 1 August 2022 to 1 February 2023. This will give services whose build has been delayed more time to complete their development and apply for a licence.

Will any other transitional provisions be available? 

  • A transitional provision has been proposed in Supplementary Order Paper 118 that would allow applications for a licence to be assessed under the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008 without getting network management approval first, provided that a complete application is received by the Ministry before the commencement date of 1 February 2023 (subject to legislative change).

We have an existing centre, but are planning an expansion to increase our number of licensed child places – will we have to apply for network management approval?

  • Network management provisions do not apply to the expansion of the operations of an existing service to increase the number of licensed child places available. 
  • Any activity that generates the need to apply for a probationary licence application after the commencement date of 1 February 2023 will require network management approval. If the centre is being completely rebuilt (e.g., bulldozed and rebuilt), or there is a permanent move from your current location, then network management approval would need to be sought.

How do we time resource consent to work with network management?

  • The Government is now proposing that network management approval lasts for up to three years instead of two. This is set out in a new Supplementary Order Paper 162 (SOP 162). You will still need to consider the overall timing required to seek resource consent and construct the building. SOP 162 also proposes that network management approval can include conditions to meet milestones to allow the Ministry to monitor progress.
  • The Education and Training Amendment Bill (No 2) includes a provision to allow the Minister to extend the period of an approval for up to another two years, but this would only apply in exceptional circumstances beyond the control of the applicant.

What has happened with the Supplementary Order Paper?

What consultation has been done with the sector in regard to network management? 

  • The Ministry of Education consulted in 2021 on proposed changes to Sections 17 and 18 of the Education and Training Act to help finalise all the details for network management. There was general support for the proposals, and the consultation feedback has now been published on Network Management for licensed early childhood services. We will be updating this page regularly to help people keep informed about the changes. 
  • The Education and Training Act was also consulted on before its implementation on 31 July 2020.

How can I keep up to date with developments on network management?

  • You can keep up to date with network management at:

Network Management for licensed early childhood services

What if my question isn’t answered by the FAQs? 

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