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Mana atua

Strand 1 Wellbeing

Content from pages 26–30 of Te Whāriki: Early Childhood Curriculum


The health and wellbeing of the child are protected and nurtured.

Ko tēnei te whakatipuranga o te tamaiti i roto i tōna oranga nui, i runga hoki i tōna mana motuhake, mana atuatanga.


All children have the right to have their health and wellbeing promoted and to be protected from harm. They also have a right to experience affection, warmth and consistent care.

Kaiako should have an understanding of Māori approaches to health and wellbeing and how these are applied in practice. Models such as Te Whare Tapa Whā emphasise the importance of te taha wairua to holistic wellbeing.

Protecting and nurturing health and wellbeing includes paying attention to aspects of physical care, such as healthy eating and nutrition and opportunities for physical activity. Safe, stable and responsive environments support the development of self-worth, identity, confidence and enjoyment, together with emotional regulation and self-control.

Children need consistency and continuity, especially at times of transition. A foundation of remembered and anticipated people, places, things and experiences will give them the confidence to engage successfully in new settings.

For Pasifika children, wellbeing is a multifaceted concept that encompasses the child, parent, ‘aiga and wider relationships. It is important that kaiako are sensitive to the different ways that the diverse families represented in their setting may understand and seek to promote wellbeing.

Wellbeing | Children have a sense of wellbeing and resilience

Mana atua | Children understand their own mana atuatanga – uniqueness and spiritual connectedness

Content sections


Learning outcomes

Evidence of learning and development

Children experience an environment where: Over time and with guidance and encouragement, children become increasingly capable of: These outcomes will be observed as learning in progress when, for example, children demonstrate:
Their health is promoted Keeping themselves healthy and caring for themselves | te oranga nui
  • Understanding of their bodies and how they function and how to keep themselves healthy.
  • Respect for tapu as it relates to themselves and others.
  • Confidence, independence, and a positive attitude towards self-help and self-care skills relating to food preparation, healthy eating and drinking, hygiene, toileting, resting, sleeping, washing and dressing.
  • An awareness of hauora and healthy lifestyles.
Their emotional wellbeing is nurtured Managing themselves and expressing their feelings and needs | te whakahua whakaaro
  • A sense of personal worth and cultural identity and the ability to make choices, focus attention, maintain concentration and be involved.
  • An ability to express emotional needs and ask for attention and to trust that their needs will be met.
They are kept safe from harm Keeping themselves and others safe from harm | te noho haumaru
  • Capacity for self-regulation and resilience in the face of challenges.
  • Capacity for tolerating and enjoying a moderate degree of change, surprise, uncertainty and puzzlement.
  • Knowledge about how to keep themselves safe from harm and the ability to take risks.
  • A sense of responsibility for their own wellbeing and that of others.
  • Respect for tikanga and rules about not harming others and the environment and an understanding of the reasons for such rules.

Examples of practices that promote these learning outcomes

Kaiako respect Māori beliefs by carrying out everyday caregiving practices in line with cultural protocols. For example, they uphold the concept of tapu and noa by separating soiled personal items from kitchen laundry.

Kaiako develop their own knowledge of te reo Māori, tikanga Māori and Māori world views so that they are better able to support children to understand their own mana atuatanga.

Kaiako facilitate tuakana–teina relationships and ensure that mokopuna have opportunities to manaaki and take responsibility for others. Kaiako trust mokopuna to manage these relationships and to indicate when they need support.


Infant standing up against a table.

  • Kaiako trust each infant’s ability to communicate their needs through cues and gestures. They respond sensitively to signals of distress, hunger or tiredness.
  • Infants experience unhurried and calm caregiving practices for feeding, sleeping and nappy changing.
  • The environment is predictable and dependable and infants are supported to build trusting attachment relationships.
  • Kaiako pay attention to the physical environment, ensuring it is calm, safe, hygienic and rich in sensory opportunities. Infants’ exploration is encouraged and carefully supervised.
  • Kaiako empower infants to discover their own limits by allowing them the time and space to learn for themselves and not intervening unnecessarily.
  • Kaiako are cognisant of environmental hazards, such as choking, sun, insects, and the activities of other children.


Toddler standing by play equipment

  • Sleeping, eating and toilet-learning routines are flexible, calm, familiar and positive. Toddlers are offered a wide range of healthy food options. Self-help in washing and eating is encouraged.
  • There are opportunities for toddlers to be independent in a supportive and encouraging environment. Toddlers’ communication and increasing independence is responded to and supported.
  • Toddlers have opportunities to make choices, take risks, and engage in a wide range of play, both inside and outside, with the support of kaiako.
  • Kaiako support toddlers to express feelings and resolve conflicts with other children.
  • The environment is challenging but not hazardous for toddlers. While alert to possible hazards, kaiako support healthy risk-taking play with heights, speed, tests of strength and the use of real tools.
  • Toddlers are supported and encouraged to take responsibility for themselves and their actions by being offered choices and opportunities for increasing independence.

Young children

Young child leaning towards camera with a big smile

  • Comfortable, quiet spaces and opportunities for rest and sleep are provided, with some flexibility around routines.
  • Young children have opportunities for independence, choice and autonomy, and they learn self-care skills.
  • Plenty of time is given for children to practise their developing self-help and self-care skills when eating, drinking, toileting, resting, washing and dressing.
  • Children are assisted in ways that support independence and competence and do not engender shame or embarrassment.
  • Although young children are increasingly able to wait for attention, they can be confident of ready responses to indications of hunger, pain and fatigue.
  • Children are supported to express, articulate and resolve a range of emotions.
  • The programme is stimulating and provides a balance between events and experiences that are predictable and those that provide moderate levels of surprise and uncertainty.
  • Kaiako help young children to understand appropriate behaviour and how to protect themselves and others from harm.
  • Kaiako support young children to respond to challenge, take risks, and undertake new endeavours.
  • Young children have opportunities to participate in energetic physical activity.

Considerations for leadership, organisation and practice

A culture is created that values and promotes the health and wellbeing of children. Kaiako model positive attitudes towards hauora, healthy eating and activity.

Policies, procedures and practices ensure that children are kept healthy and safe and that they feel secure in an environment where signs of danger or abuse are promptly recognised. Any suspected harm or abuse is dealt with in association with support agencies and families.

Daily routines respond to individual circumstances and needs and allow for frequent outdoor experiences, regular rest times, and a variety of group and individual interactions, with one-to-one attention from adults every day.

Kaiako ensure the provision of protected spaces, both indoors and out, to which children can retreat for quiet play, either alone or in small groups.

Frequent communication between all those who work with children and whānau ensures consistent, reasoned responses to children’s changing needs and behaviours and sharing of information on health issues, such as nutrition and inoculations.

Kaiako understand the progression of and variations in children’s development and provide time for the gradual growth of independent skills, such as feeding, toileting and dressing.

When kaiako have concerns about a child’s development or health they work in partnership with parents, whānau and relevant services to gain appropriate early intervention or medical advice and treatment.

Kaiako anticipate children’s needs for comfort and communicate positive feelings in an environment that is calm, friendly and conducive to warm and intimate interactions. They are mindful of all learners when planning the social, sensory and physical environments.

Kaiako build relationships of trust and respect children’s rights by acknowledging feelings and individuality, explaining procedures, taking children’s fears and concerns seriously, and responding sensitively.

Kaiako recognise the importance of spirituality in the development of the whole child.

Kaiako recognise that, like the children, they need emotional support, some flexibility in their routines, and the opportunity to share and discuss their experiences in a comfortable setting.

Questions for reflection

Kaiako are invited to use these or their own questions to support reflective practice.

  • How might kaiako understand children’s wellbeing | mana atua?
  • In what ways might kaiako work to ensure that feeding, toileting, and nappy-changing practices are familiar to children?
  • In what ways are individual nutritional needs or preferences catered for?
  • How are children given ample opportunities to develop self-help and self-care skills?
  • In what ways do kaiako respectfully support children to express and manage their feelings?
  • In what ways do kaiako enable responsive and flexible routines that support children’s learning?
  • How might children be supported to understand and advocate for their own and others’ wellbeing?
  • What cultural considerations are/should be taken account of when promoting children’s health and wellbeing?
  • In what ways are children encouraged to develop trust?
  • How might kaiako strengthen children’s self-efficacy and sense of self-worth?
  • How does the curriculum provide genuine opportunities for children to make choices and develop independence?
  • How might kaiako enhance children’s sense of responsibility for their own wellbeing and that of others?

Curriculum support content and resources