The story of Te Whāriki

Minister of Education Hon Hekia Parata launches Te Whāriki 2017


The Ministry of Education has recently led a process to update New Zealand’s early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki. This is the first update since the original publication was released. It is intended to support effective curriculum implementation across all early learning settings for current and future generations of children.


The history of Te Whāriki

Te Whāriki was originally developed by writers Dr Helen May (senior lecturer in early childhood education) and Margaret Carr (senior lecturer in early childhood studies) from the University of Waikato, working in partnership with Dr Tamati Muturangi Reedy (from 1996, Dean of Te Pua Wānanga ki te Ao, University of Waikato) and Tilly Te Koingo Reedy (nominated by the Kōhanga Reo National Trust).

The metaphor of the whāriki, with its principles | kaupapa whakahaere and strands | whakahirahira was provided by Tamati and Tilly Reedy, who drew upon traditional Māori concepts that had shaped the kaupapa of ngā kōhanga reo.

Helen and Margaret worked across the diverse early childhood education sector to achieve broad commitment to this framing and philosophy. They developed guidelines for practice that was empowering and inclusive.

Te Whāriki was published in draft in 1993 and was regarded as innovative and world leading. The Ministry of Education subsequently adapted this draft and published a final version in 1996. This version has shaped early childhood education practice in Aotearoa for over 20 years.

Te Whāriki 2017

In 2015, an update of Te Whāriki was recommended by the Advisory Group on Early Learning (AGEL), appointed by the Minister of Education to advise on ways to strengthen curriculum implementation and early learning continuity. Read the full report of the Advisory Group on Early Learning.

In 2016, the Ministry of Education appointed a team of writers to undertake the Te Whāriki update. This group included academics and practitioners with specialist expertise across a range of early learning contexts. Read more about the writing team.

The original writers of Te Whāriki – Emeritus Professor Helen May, Professor Margaret Carr, Professor Sir Tamati Reedy and Lady Tilly Reedy – were engaged as advisors to the update project and provided guidance at each stage of its development.

An updated draft of Te Whāriki was released for public consultation in November 2016. Over 1400 people attended consultation hui and almost 800 individuals and organisations contributed to an online survey. This feedback was carefully considered in the preparation of the final document. (You can find summaries of the feedback on the draft Te Whāriki at the bottom of the page.)

The 2017 Te Whāriki has been updated to reflect changes to context, theory, and practice. The curriculum for ngā kōhanga reo, previously described as part B is now identified as Te Whāriki a te Kōhanga Reo.

The updated Te Whāriki consists of two documents in one: Te Whāriki: He whāriki mātauranga mō ngā mokopuna o Aotearoa Early childhood curriculum and Te Whāriki a te Kōhanga Reo. The first (which retains the title of the original 1996 document) is for use by all early learning services except kōhanga reo affiliated to the National Trust. The print edition of the two documents is formatted as a flipbook.

The two documents describe alternative curriculum pathways of equal status. Both share a common framework of principles and strands.

‘Te Whāriki’ can be used as a short title for either document/curriculum (or, informally, the combined documents) as long as it is clear from the context what is meant.

The update for Te Whāriki: He whāriki mātauranga mō ngā mokopuna o Aotearoa Early childhood curriculum includes a stronger focus on bicultural practice, the importance of language, culture, and identity, and the inclusion of all children.

The learning outcomes have been reviewed and condensed to twenty to enable a greater focus on “what matters here” when designing local curriculum.

Links to The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa have been set out to support children’s transition pathways and learning continuity. The overall structure has been streamlined for easier navigation.

The aspiration for children, bicultural structure, principles, strands and goals remain the same. In this way Te Whāriki remains a unique and visionary framework for lifelong learning.


Read Te Whāriki online
Read Te Whāriki online

Te Whariki: He whāriki mātauranga mō ngā mokopuna o Aotearoa | Early childhood curriculum is the national curriculum document for early childhood education (ECE).

Read full publication
Te Whāriki a te Kōhanga Reo
Te Whāriki a te Kōhanga Reo

Kei tēnei tauira whāriki ngā whakahaere mō ngā kōhanga reo. Ko te tikanga, ina oti ai te raranga i te whāriki nei, kua oti hoki te whakatakoto i ngā huarahi o ngā taonga e tukuna ana ki ngā mokopuna.

Pānuitia te katoa o Te Whāriki a te Kōhanga Reo

This site is designed for you as you work with our tamariki. We will be adding more support resources and information. We would appreciate your feedback with any suggestions or ideas for further content.

Please email us at Early.Learning@education.govt.nz