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

Types of ECE services

Ngā puna kōhungahunga and other playgroups are the only ECE services that are certificated rather than licensed. This means they may be less formal than other kinds of ECE services and have fewer Ministry requirements to meet. There are 2 main types of ECE service – teacher-led and parent-led. All teacher-led and parent-led services other than playgroups are licensed.

The table below shows the range of ECE services available.

  • Teacher-led services
    • Education and care services

      • run all-day sessions or flexible hour programmes for children from birth to school age
      • some services are for certain ages like children under two
      • may be privately owned, or owned and operated by a community group
      • some have a particular language and cultural base.


      • accept children between two and five years old and can have set morning and afternoon sessions for different age groups
      • some offer all-day or flexible sessions for a wider age range of children
      • non-profit, community-based services managed by a Kindergarten Association.

      Home-based education and care services

      • involve an educator3 providing education and care for groups of up to 4 under school age children at a time in a home setting
      • each educator must belong to a licensed home-based care network and is supported by a coordinator4 who is a registered ECE teacher.
  • Parent-led services
    • Playgroups

      • are run by parents and cater for groups of children from birth to school age and their parents
      • typically meet for 1 to 5 sessions each week to provide play, social and learning opportunities for children
      • can be certificated and may be less formal than other kinds of ECE services.

      Pasifika playgroups

      • As well as the above playgroup requirements, Pasifika playgroups focus on developing and maintaining Pasifika languages and cultures.

      Ngā Puna kōhungahunga

      • As well as the above playgroup requirements, Māori language and tikanga is reflected in the structure and content of the playgroup sessions.


      • are collectively supervised and managed by parents for children from birth to school age
      • have a strong focus on parent education as well as children’s learning
      • are supported by Playcentre Associations around the country.

      Ngā Kōhanga Reo

      • cater for children from birth to school age in a Māori language and tikanga Māori environment
      • parents and whānau manage and operate the kōhanga reo with the support and guidance of the Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust
      • some kōhanga reo are also teacher-led services with trained kaiako.