Aperira's Blog


Posted on: April 13, 2010

For over 60 years as a voluntary organisation, Playcentre has met the changing needs of families and their communities, and today remains active in New Zealand’s early childhood education sector (Mitchell, Royal-Tangaere, Mara & Wylie, 2006).  Playcentre was instrumental in introducing the concept of education through play and child-initiated activities to the early childhood setting in New Zealand. It also values parents as children’s first educators.    This philosophy has since been adopted throughout all New Zealand early childhood education centres through Te Whāriki (Ministry of Education, 1996) the New Zealand curriculum for early childhood education (May, 2009). The Playcentre model has been adopted by groups in other countries, including the Japan Playcentre Association.  Today there are 512 Playcentres affiliated to the New Zealand Playcentre Federation through each of the 33 regional Associations (The New Zealand Playcentre Federation, n.d).

In 1975 the New Zealand government passed the Treaty of Waitangi Act and Māori began to demand their rights expressing their concern about the future of Māori children and te reo (Orange, 2004).   In 1982 after over 20 years of political resurgence from Māori activists fighting the fragmentation of Māori culture, the first Kōhanga reo opened in Wellington.  Te Kōhanga Reo is a total immersion te reo (language) and tikanga (customs/traditions) Māori whānau programme for mokopuna (children) from birth to six years of age.  The aim was for fluent speakers of te reo to teach mokopuna and support parents to also learn te reo with the underpinning goals of passing on the Māori language and culture to future generations (Government Review Team, 1988).

The kaupapa (philosophy) of Kōhanga reo asserts

“The quality of learning and development of mokopuna stems from the collective strength of the whānau”

(Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust, n.d).

Kōhanga Reo brought to the world a unique learning model that would focus on the whānau (family), be run by the local community, using the skills of the old to teach the young.  This has had a direct impact on Māori health and general wellbeing as a culture is revived from a long history of oppression (Campbell, 2003).

Both Playcentre and Kōhanga reo are unique services to Aotearoa/New Zealand.

However are they truly valued by the government? And

How do the government education policies impact on the future outlook of parent/whānau led services?


Campbell, S. (2003). Standing tall: Tū tāngata. Cambridge, New Zealand: Kina Film Productions Ltd.

Government Review Team. (1988). Report of the review of Te Kōhanga reo. Wellington, New Zealand: New Zealand Government.

May, H. (2009). Politics in the playground: The world of early childhood in New Zealand. Dunedin, New Zealand: Otago University Press.

Ministry of Education. (1996). Te Whāriki: He Whāriki mātauranga mō ngā mokopuna o Aotearoa/Early childhood curriculum. Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media.

Mitchell, L., Royal Tangaere, A., Mara, D., & Wylie, C. (2006). Quality in parent/whānau-led services: Summary research report. Wellington, New Zealand: NZCER & TKRNT.

New Zealand Playcentre Federation (n.d.). History. Retrieved April 5, 2010, from Playcentre: http://www.playcentre.org.nz/history.php

Orange, C. (2004). An illustrated history of the Treaty of Waitangi. Wellington: Bridget Williams Books.

Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust. (2003). History. Retrieved April 5, 2010, from http://www.Kōhanga.ac.nz/history.html


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