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Mana whenua

Strand 2 Belonging

Content from pages 31–35 of Te Whāriki: Early Childhood Curriculum


Children and their families feel a sense of belonging.

Ko te whakatipuranga tēnei o te mana ki te whenua, te mana tūrangawaewae, me te mana toi whenua o te tangata.


ECE settings are safe and secure places where each child is treated with respect and diversity is valued. All children need to know that they are accepted for who they are and that they can make a difference. Feeling that they belong contributes to their wellbeing and gives them the confidence to try new experiences. Children experience an accessible and inclusive curriculum that offers meaning and purpose.

Transitions into and across settings are thoughtfully planned and recognise what children bring with them; they need to know that their ECE setting is part of their wider world and inclusive of their parents and whānau. Children are more likely to feel at home if they regularly see their own culture, language and world views valued in the ECE setting. It is therefore important that whānau feel welcome and able to participate in the day-to-day curriculum and in curriculum decision making.

Respect is shown for Māori views of the world, the natural environment, and the child’s connection through time to whenua, atua Māori and tīpuna.

The identities, languages and cultures of Pasifika children are strengthened by acknowledging the interconnectedness of people, place, time and things.

Belonging is nurtured through social interaction with kaiako and other children and by respecting the achievements and aspirations of each child’s family and community.

Belonging | Children know they belong and have a sense of connection to others and the environment

Mana whenua | Children’s relationship to Papatūānuku is based on whakapapa, respect and aroha

Content sections


Learning outcomes

Evidence of learning and development

Children and their families 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:
Connecting links with the family and the wider world are affirmed and extended Making connections between people, places and things in their world | te waihanga hononga
  • An ability to connect their learning in the ECE setting with experiences at home and in familiar cultural communities and a sense of themselves as global citizens.
  • Interest and pleasure in learning about the wider, unfamiliar world.
They know that they have a place Taking part in caring for this place | te manaaki i te taiao 
  • A feeling of belonging – and that they have a right to belong – in the ECE setting.
  • Knowledge about features of the local area, such as a river or mountain (this may include their spiritual significance).
  • Ability to play an active part in the running of the programme, take on different roles and take responsibility for their own actions.
They feel comfortable with the routines, customs and regular events Understanding how things work here and adapting to change | te mārama ki te āhua o ngā whakahaere me te mōhio ki te panoni 
  • Skills in caring for the environment, such as cleaning, fixing and gardening.
  • Ability to help others with self-care skills.
  • Ability to anticipate routines, customs and regular events and to know what is acceptable and valued behaviour.
They know the limits and boundaries of acceptable behaviour Showing respect for kaupapa, rules and the rights of others | te mahi whakaute 
  • Predictability and consistency in their behaviour towards, and responding to, others.
  • Understanding of the reasons for rules about acceptable behaviour.
  • Understanding of the kaupapa of the ECE setting and the need to be fair to all children.


Examples of practices that promote these learning outcomes

Kaiako are cognisant of the concept of tangata whenua and the relationship that Māori have to each other and to the land. This guides kaiako relationships with whānau, hapū and iwi. Kaiako share appropriate histories, kōrero and waiata with mokopuna to enhance their identity and sense of belonging.

Kaiako support mokopuna to engage respectfully with and to have aroha for Papatūānuku. They encourage an understanding of kaitiakitanga and the responsibilities of being a kaitiaki by, for example, caring for rivers, native forest and birds.


Infant standing up against a table.

  • Language, key words, signs and routines that infants are familiar with at home are used in the ECE setting. The environment is language-rich and includes familiar rhymes, songs, chants and experiences.
  • A regular but flexible pattern is established for the day, which includes time outside and visits to see people and places.
  • Each infant has a familiar sleeping space and meal area. Infants’ favourite things are available to them.
  • A familiar and unhurried kaiako has primary responsibility for each infant so that they can anticipate who will welcome and care for them. The timing and pace of caregiving practices is guided by the infant.
  • The curriculum is flexible enough to ensure that an infant’s needs and preferences for a particular person or way of doing something can be met.
  • There is a reassuring emphasis on the familiar, with new elements introduced thoughtfully into the curriculum.


Toddler standing by play equipment

  • Kaiako recognise and respect toddlers’ relationships with particular people, places and things. Conversations with kaiako about family members and happenings are a natural part of the programme, and special objects from home are accepted and cared for.
  • The curriculum provides toddlers with widening experiences of the world through a range of playthings, books, pictures and happenings. Toddlers’ favourite games, books, toys and events are identified and included in the programme.
  • The curriculum provides opportunities for toddlers to develop relationships and kaiako are sensitive as to when and how they intervene.
  • Comfortable, enjoyable and predictable caregiving practices are established that support each toddler’s identity, self-knowledge and developing self-regulation.
  • Consistent and manageable expectations and boundaries are set. Kaiako assist toddlers to manage their feelings when making choices and decisions and when dealing with conflict and frustrations.

Young children

Young child leaning towards camera with a big smile

  • There are opportunities for children to learn about the wider world by finding out about places of importance in the community through stories, visitors or trips.
  • Kaiako talk with children about upcoming events that are out of the ordinary, such as trips, so that they can anticipate and be comfortable with them.
  • There is time for children to talk about home and to share special news with other children and adults.
  • Children are encouraged to contribute to decision making about the programme.
  • Children are encouraged to grow and prepare food.
  • Children are encouraged to take up opportunities to fix things, clean, garden, and care for the environment and the people in it. They can help arrange things and put them away in the right place.
  • The programme allows time for favourite activities, developing skills and interests and completing longer-term projects.
  • Kaiako accept children’s different ways of doing things as part of their developing sense of self. They are given opportunities to discuss their feelings and negotiate on rights, fairness, expectations and justice.
  • Strategies that promote positive behaviour for learning are used to prevent unacceptable behaviour and support the learning of new behaviours, social skills and competencies.

Considerations for leadership, organisation and practice

All children and their families are accepted, their diversity is valued and welcomed, and they are actively supported to participate and learn.

Policies and practices are in place to promote smooth transitions for children and their parents and whānau into and within the setting.

Parents and whānau are welcomed, comfortable and involved in the programme in ways that are meaningful for them and their child. Occasions such as a shared lunch, trip or barbecue enable ECE whānau to meet each other.

Respect for a diversity of family forms and cultures exists and kaiako have knowledge of children’s families so they can reflect these in the curriculum.

Appropriate connections with iwi and hapū are established. Kaiako support tikanga Māori and the use of te reo Māori.

Kaiako encourage a sense of kaitiakitanga by providing children with regular opportunities to connect with the wider natural environment and materials drawn from nature.

Appreciation of and respect for children’s social and cultural connections are expressed in the day-to-day life of the setting.

The interdependence of children, whānau and community is recognised and supported.

The curriculum supports children and their families to be active participants in their communities.

Children have some space for their belongings and are able to identify with the environment. Personal photographs, family names, artwork, celebrations and the like can be important for establishing a sense of belonging.

Familiar, unhurried, regular routines and caregiving practices that children can anticipate, such as welcomes and farewells, provide reassurance and minimise stress for both children and adults.

Kaiako take time to listen seriously to the views of parents and whānau about their children’s learning, and they share decision making with them.

Kaiako inform parents and whānau about the services available for children who need additional support for their learning.

Kaiako and whānau agree on expectations regarding appropriate behaviour.

Kaiako are consistent, reliable and realistic in their expectations and responses, and they foster harmonious working relationships with each other and with parents and whānau.

Questions for reflection

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

  • How do kaiako learn about the languages and cultures of all families and in what ways are these affirmed in the setting?
  • How might kaiako foster a sense of belonging in children of all ages and from all cultures?
  • What features of the ECE environment help children and whānau feel that this is a place where they belong?
  • What opportunities might kaiako offer children to connect to, respect and care for Papatūānuku?
  • How might kaiako help children and families learn more about the local area?
  • In what ways can kaiako deepen children’s relationships with people, places and things in their world?
  • In what ways can kaiako support children to take care of or become kaitiaki of this place?
  • How do kaiako know how the setting’s routines, customs and events are experienced by children and their families?
  • What relational practices foster children’s respect for self and others?
  • In what ways can kaiako adapt the environment and pedagogy to support children’s behaviour within the agreed boundaries?
  • How do kaiako support children to adapt to changes?

Curriculum support content and resources