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Te Whāriki | The NZ Early Childhood Curriculum

Updated: Dec 16, 2020

He taonga te mokopuna, kia whangaia, kia tipu, kia rea.

A child is a treasure, to be nurtured, to grow, to flourish.

Eduplay Childcare Westgate - Flag Painting

A whariki or woven mat, is the symbol used to represent the NZ early childhood curriculum. The whariki acknowledges that many aspects must come together to fully develop the potential in a child. The whariki image is unfinished which symbolises that there is always more to learn, and a weaver can always weave in new strands of harakeke (flax) to expand their whariki.

Te Whariki has the expectation that the early learning environment is a partnership between Kaiako (teachers), parents, whanau and community. The NZ curriculum seeks to empower children to become lifelong learners.

Eduplay Childcare Westgate - Exploring Nature

Te Whariki provides a framework of principles and strands. These are woven together in the ECE setting to achieve the vision of children who are competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society.

There are four principles and five strands that teachers, parents, and whanau weave together in a curriculum specifically designed for their children.

Eduplay Childcare Westgate - Outdoor art


· empowerment | whakamana

· holistic development | kotahitanga

· family and community | whanau tangata

· relationships | nga hononga

These principles are the foundations of curriculum decision making and a guide for every aspect of pedagogy and practice within Eduplay Childcare Westgate.

Empowerment | Whakamana

To learn and develop to their potential, children must be respected and valued. This means recognising their rights to have their wellbeing promoted and be protected from harm and to experience equitable opportunities for participation, learning, rest and play. Perspectives on empowerment are culturally located, hence kaiako need to seek the input of children and their parents and whanau when designing the local curriculum.

Holistic development | Kotahitanga

Holistic development means teachers must consider all aspects of a child’s life. Intellectual, physical, emotional, spiritual, social and cultural. These dimensions need to be viewed as closely interwoven and interdependent. Children need a broad and rich curriculum that enables them to grow their capabilities across all dimensions.

Eduplay Childcare Westgate  - Dining Room

Family and Community | Whanau tangata

The wellbeing of each child is interdependent with the wellbeing of their kaiako, parents and whanau. Children learn and develop best when their culture, knowledge and community are affirmed and when the people in their lives help them to make connections across settings. Children’s learning and development is enhanced when culturally appropriate ways of communicating are used and when parents, whanau and community are encouraged to participate in and contribute to the curriculum.

Relationships | Nga hononga

Parents and whanau trust that their ECE service will provide an environment where respectful relationships, encouragement, warmth and acceptance are the norm. It is through responsive and reciprocal relationships with people, places and things that children have opportunities to try out their ideas and refine their working theories. For this reason, collaborative aspirations, ventures and achievements are valued. Connections to past, present, and future are integral to a Maori perspective of relationships.

Eduplay Childcare Westgate - Toddler Room


· wellbeing | mana atua

· belonging | mana whenua

· contribution | mana tangata

· communication | mana reo

· exploration | mana aotoroa

The strands are 5 areas of learning and development, where the focus is on supporting children to develop the capabilities they need as confident and competent learners.

Wellbeing | Mana atua

Children experience an environment where their health is promoted, their emotional wellbeing is nurtured, and they are kept safe from harm. Over time and with guidance and encouragement, children become increasingly capable of keeping themselves healthy and caring for themselves. They can also manage and express their feelings and needs as well as keeping themselves and others safe from harm.

Eduplay Childcare Westgate - Children Gardening

Belonging | Mana whenua

Children and their families experience an environment where they feel comfortable with the routines, customs, and regular events. They know the limits and boundaries of acceptable behaviour and they know that they have a place. Connecting links with the family and the wider world are affirmed and extended. Over time and with guidance and encouragement children become capable of making connections between people, places and things in their world. Children take part in caring for the childcare centre and understanding how things work and adapting to change. Respect for kaupapa, rules and the rights of others is shown by all.

Contribution | Mana tangata

Children and their families experience an environment where there are equitable opportunities for learning, irrespective of gender, ability, age, ethnicity or background, they are affirmed as individuals, and they are encouraged to learn with and alongside others. Over time and with guidance and encouragement children become capable of treating others fairly and including them in play, recognising and appreciating their own ability to learn, and use a range of strategies and skills to play and learn with others.

Eduplay Childcare Westgate - Baby Outside

Communication | Mana reo

Children and their families experience an environment where they develop non-verbal communication skills for a range of purposes, followed by developing verbal communication skills for a range of purposes. They experience the stories and symbols of their own and other cultures as well as discovering different ways to be creative and expressive. Over time and with guidance and encouragement children become capable of expressing their feelings and ideas using a wide range of materials and modes. Recognising mathematical and print symbols and concepts and using them with enjoyment, meaning and purpose. Enjoying hearing stories and retelling and creating them.

Exploration | Mana aoturoa

The child learns through active exploration of the environment where play is valued as meaningful learning and the importance of spontaneous play is recognised. The child’s exploration involves all aspects of the environment: natural, social, physical, spiritual and human-made. Children gain confidence in and control of their bodies. There are opportunities to explore both outdoors and indoors in a safe and stimulating environment where objects and furnishings are suitable and appropriate for the child’s stage of development.

Eduplay Childcare Westgate - Outdoor Art

Unique in its bicultural framing, Te Whariki expresses the vision that all children will grow up in New Zealand as competent and confident learners, strong in their identity, language, and culture. It emphasises our bicultural foundation, our multicultural present and the shared future we are creating.

It encourages all children to learn in their own ways, supported by adults who know them well and have their best interests at heart.


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