Establishing a certificated puna kōhungahunga (Māori language playgroup)

"Te piko o te māhuri Tera te tipu o te rakau - The bow in the branch is indicative of how the tree will grow."

'Establishing a Certificated Puna Kōhungahunga' is a guide for whānau who want to set up a puna kōhungahunga.

Ministry of Education staff are available to work with whānau to set up a puna kōhungahunga and to get certification. Their focus is on quality early childhood education programmes for children.

If you are interested in setting up a certificated puna kōhungahunga contact your local Ministry of Education office.

Ministry of Education local offices

More about certification

  • Does the venue meet the certification criteria?
    • Before you sign an agreement you need to make sure the building meets the certification criteria:

      • Toilets – Are these clean, tidy and easy to get to, with hand-washing facilities?
      • Kitchen – Is it easy for adults to get to? Does it have a fridge, microwave, and crockery?
      • Heating and ventilation – Is there suitable heating? Is it safe and out of reach of tamariki? Is there good air flow? There need to be doors and windows to allow air to flow through easily.
      • Outdoor area – If there is an outdoor area for tamariki to play, does it have safe structures and suitable fencing so tamariki can be safe? If there is no outdoor area you will need to think about how the group will provide physically active play opportunities.
      • Furniture – Are the chairs, couches, tables comfortable for whānau and tamariki?
  • Are the equipment and resources suitable?
    • Choose equipment and resources that are both fun and educational. If you decide to create your own resources, or buy equipment you should check:

      • Is it safe for tamariki to use?
      • Is it appealing to tamariki?
      • Does it reflect children’s everyday lives and also provide new opportunities and challenges?
      • Can it be used imaginatively and in different ways?
      • Is it large and strong enough not to be broken off or swallowed?
      • Is it durable, washable and hygienic?

      These can include natural and recyclable resources that are free, and homemade resources which can be both effective and cheap. Some businesses e.g. signwriters, carpenters or material shops have offcuts that could be useful.

      Storing your equipment can be an issue if you share your premises with other groups. You will need to think about whether there is enough space to store the equipment, and if it is secure.

      For advice about equipment contact staff at your local Ministry of Education office.

  • Does our education programme follow the Ministry’s curriculum?
    • The curriculum for playgroups and ngā puna kōhungahunga is based on 4 principles and 5 strands from Te Whāriki and can be found in the booklet 'Certification Criteria for Playgroups 2008'.

      The four principles from Te Whāriki are:

      1. Whakamana – empower tamariki to learn and grow by encouraging and allowing them to make choices and take responsibility for their own learning.
      2. Kotahitanga – reflect the holistic way that tamariki learn and grow by recognising that all learning is interwoven and happens through relevant and meaningful experiences.
      3. Whānau Tangata – include and involve the whānau and local community by respecting differing viewpoints and encouraging whānau and community participation.
      4. Ngā Hononga – recognise that tamariki learn through interacting with the people, places and things in their environments by providing a wide and interesting range of people, places and things for tamariki to be with.

      The five strands from Te Whāriki are:

      1. Mana Atua – tamariki are physically and emotionally safe.
      2. Mana Whenua – tamariki and their whānau feel a sense of belonging.
      3. Mana Tangata – everyone is treated fairly and contributions are valued.
      4. Mana Reo – language and a range of other communication tools (such as books, art, drama, dance, mathematics, movement, music) from children’s own cultures, from Aotearoa’s Māori heritage, and from other cultures is promoted and valued.
      5. Mana Aoturoa – tamariki can actively explore and make sense of their world.

      Read Te Whāriki.


  • So what does this mean in practice for ngā puna kōhungahunga?
    • The day to day activities, experiences, events, routines, rituals, resources, opportunities and interactions that happen in ngā puna kōhungahunga should reflect and promote the 4 principles and 5 strands of Te Whāriki.

      The principles and strands of Te Whāriki should be seen in the way the various types of play are provided for tamariki, and the ways adults relate and respond to tamariki as they play.

      More things to ask yourself and your group when planning your curriculum:

      Mana Atua (Wellbeing)

      • Are we giving our tamariki opportunities, activities and resources that will help them to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes to keep themselves safe and healthy?
      • Are we interacting with tamariki and each other in ways that promote a sense of self worth?

      Mana Whenua (Belonging)

      • Are we giving our tamariki opportunities, activities and resources that are familiar to them and help them feel welcome and comfortable in this place?
      • Are we interacting in ways that show each other that in this place we are safe and cared for and we are all respected and accepted for who we are?

      Mana Tangata (Contribution)

      • Are we giving our tamariki opportunities, activities and resources that encourage them to actively participate with and alongside others?
      • Are we acting and interacting in ways that support tamariki to learn about valuing themselves and others and working together?

      Mana Reo (Communication)

      • Are we giving our tamariki opportunities, activities and resources that help them to develop increasing ability and confidence to communicate?
      • Are we giving our tamariki opportunities, activities and resources that help them learn te reo and tikanga?
      • Are we interacting in ways that encourage tamariki and adults to think, solve problems, express ideas, opinions and feelings?

      Mana Aotūroa (Exploration)

      • Are we giving our tamariki opportunities, activities and resources that are appealing, interesting, challenging and meaningful for them?
      • Are we encouraging them to try things out, experiment, play around with materials and ideas and revisit and build on past experiences and ideas?
      • Are we interacting in ways that encourage tamariki to actively explore their environments and are we showing that we value their play and spontaneous exploration?

      Ask the staff at your local Ministry of Education office for more information and ideas about developing the education programme for your puna kōhungahunga.

      Parents and whānau involved in running the puna kōhungahunga can get information, support and training from the Ministry of Education.

      Ministry of Education office