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Aligning our practice to Te Whāriki (2017)

Key changes in Te Whāriki (2017) and what they mean for your practice

Te Whāriki (2017)

In 2017 the Ministry of Education released the refreshed version of Te Whāriki: He whāriki mātauranga mō ngā mokopuna o Aotearoa Early childhood curriculum and Te Whāriki a te Kōhanga Reo.

The overarching structure of principles, strands, and goals / Te Tauira Whāriki remained unchanged.

The key changes were:

  • a greater focus on “what matters here” when designing local curriculum
  • strengthening the bicultural framing with a focus on identity, language, and culture
  • acknowledgement of Kaupapa Maōri theory, Pasifika approaches, critical theory, and new research on brain development
  • fewer, broader learning outcomes to support local curriculum design (118 to 20)
  • links to The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa
  • examples and implementation advice including specific sections addressing the responsibilities of kaiako and guidance for pedagogical and organisational leadership
  • a streamlined structure for easier navigation.

To support the changes, the Ministry of Education established this site, Te Whāriki Online, offering information, resources, and support for early childhood teachers, educators, and kaiako working with Te Whāriki (2017).

What the changes mean for your practice

On the following pages you can find practical suggestions and resources on how you can implement these key changes in your day-to-day practice.

A greater focus on "what matters here" when designing local curriculum

Strengthening the bicultural framing with a focus on identity, language, and culture

Acknowledgement of Kaupapa Maōri theory and Pasifika approaches

Acknowledgement of critical theory and research on brain development

Fewer learning outcomes

Examples and implementation advice for kaiako and services

  • Summary of the background of Te Whāriki

    Summary of the background of Te Whāriki Summary of the background of Te Whāriki

    Te Whāriki (1996)

    When it was first published in 1996, Te Whāriki he whāriki mātauranga mō ngā mokopuna o Aotearoa: Early childhood curriculum quickly became internationally renowned for its innovative, non-prescriptive, and open-ended framework grounded in te ao Māori.

    The concept of a whāriki – a woven mat for all to stand on – encapsulated the diverse theories and philosophies evident in the early years sector at the time. It connected to deeply held cultural and spiritual beliefs located in te ao Māori. Te Whāriki (1996) laid out two pathways one for English-medium early years services and one for Kōhanga Reo and other Māori-medium services.

    For more information see: The story of Te Whāriki

    What happened next

    New research and practice emphasised:

    • the importance of thoughtful and intentional pedagogy
    • the benefits of services identifying and implementing learning priorities in their curriculum design.

    Societal shifts occurred with:

    • increased ECE participation rates
    • infants and toddlers spending longer in ECE services
    • increased ethnic and cultural diversity
    • widespread and routine use of digital technology
    • prioritising of global consciousness and environmental sustainability.

    Other drivers for a curriculum revision included:

    • Education Review Office reports revealing inconsistencies in the quality of curriculum implementation
    • a maturing understanding of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and including kaupapa Māori in education
    • improving support for Pacific peoples’ identity, culture, and language learning in Aotearoa
    • updating links between The New Zealand Curriculum, Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, and Te Aho Matua
    • new understanding regarding concepts of equity and inclusive education for all children across early years
    • updating how to implement an inclusive curriculum for all children across early years.

    An update was recommended that led to Te Whāriki (2017).

    For more information see: The story of Te Whāriki

    Summary of the background of Te Whāriki