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Taumata whakahirahira

Strands, goals, and learning outcomes

Content from pages 22–25 of Te Whāriki: Early Childhood Curriculum


He pai te tirohanga ki ngā mahara mō ngā rā pahemo engari ka puta te māramatanga i runga i te titiro whakamua.

It’s fine to have recollections of the past, but wisdom comes from being able to prepare opportunities for the future.

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Strands, goals, and learning outcomes

The five strands of Te Whāriki are Wellbeing | Mana atua, Belonging | Mana whenua, Contribution | Mana tangata, Communication | Mana reo and Exploration | Mana aotūroa. Each strand has dual English and Māori names; while closely related, different cultural connotations mean the two are not equivalents. Together with the principles, these strands provide the framework for a holistic curriculum.

The goals in each strand describe characteristics of ECE environments and pedagogies that are conducive to learning and development. The goals are for kaiako, who are responsible for the curriculum in their setting.

The learning outcomes in each strand are broad statements that encompass valued knowledge, skills, attitudes and dispositions that children develop over time. They are designed to inform curriculum planning and evaluation and support assessment of children’s progress.

Knowledge, skills, attitudes, and dispositions

Children construct knowledge as they make meaning of their world. Knowledge is cultural, social and material. It draws on cultural, aesthetic, historical, social, scientific, technological, mathematical and geographical information.

Skills are what children can do; they are what make interaction in and with the world possible. Skills include capabilities as different as being able to move through space, make a friend, express an idea or use a specific tool.

Children’s attitudes are viewpoints or positions that reflect their values or beliefs.

Knowledge, skills, and attitudes combine as dispositions, which are tendencies to respond to situations in particular ways. As children learn, they develop a growing repertoire of dispositions and the ability to use them in ways that are sensitive to the context.

The learning outcomes of Te Whāriki include knowledge, skills and attitudes, which combine as dispositions and working theories.

Learning dispositions and working theories

Many dispositions have been identified as valuable for supporting lifelong learning; these are termed learning dispositions. Learning dispositions associated with Te Whāriki include: courage and curiosity (taking an interest), trust and playfulness (being involved), perseverance (persisting with difficulty, challenge and uncertainty), confidence (expressing a point of view or feeling) and responsibility (taking responsibility). Other learning dispositions include reciprocity, creativity, imagination and resilience.

Cultural beliefs influence which learning dispositions are valued and how. Te Whatu Pōkeka highlights rangatiratanga, whakatoi, manaakitanga and aroha as learning dispositions that are valued in te ao Māori. Others include hūmārie and whakahī.

Learning dispositions necessarily incorporate a ‘ready, willing and able’ element. Being ‘ready’ means having the inclination, being ‘willing’ means having sensitivity to time and place, and being ‘able’ means having the necessary knowledge and skills. Learning dispositions enable children to construct learner identities that travel with them into new contexts and across time, in this way supporting lifelong learning.

Working theories are the evolving ideas and understandings that children develop as they use their existing knowledge to try to make sense of new experiences. Children are most likely to generate and refine working theories in learning environments where uncertainty is valued, inquiry is modelled, and making meaning is the goal.

Learning dispositions and working theories are closely interwoven. For example, the disposition to be curious involves having the inclination and skills to inquire into and puzzle over ideas and events. These inquiries will often lead to the development of working theories.

Learning dispositions support children to develop, refine and extend working theories as they revisit interests and engage in new experiences. As they gain experience and knowledge, children’s working theories become more connected, applicable and useful and, at times, more creative and imaginative.

It is expected that kaiako will prioritise the development of children’s learning dispositions and working theories because these enable learning across the whole curriculum. Due to their importance, learning dispositions and working theories are also specifically referenced in two learning outcomes: ‘Recognising and appreciating their own ability to learn | te rangatiratanga’ and ‘Making sense of their worlds by generating and refining working theories | te rangahau me te mātauranga’.

"[Early childhood is] a period of momentous significance for all people growing up in [our] culture ... By the time this period is over, children will have formed conceptions of themselves as social beings, as thinkers, and as language users, and they will have reached certain important decisions about their own abilities and their own worth." Donaldson, Grieve & Pratt (1983)

Guidance for kaiako

The expectation is that kaiako will work with colleagues, children, parents and whānau to unpack the strands, goals, and learning outcomes, interpreting these and setting priorities for their particular ECE setting.

To assist this process, each strand is accompanied by:

  • examples of evidence of children’s learning and development
  • examples of practices that promote the learning and development of infants, toddlers, and young children
  • considerations for leadership, organisation and practice
  • reflective questions for kaiako.




Learning outcomes


Mana atua

 Children experience an environment where: Over time and with guidance and encouragement, children become increasingly capable of: 
  • Their health is promoted
  • Keeping themselves healthy and caring for themselves | te oranga nui
  • Their emotional wellbeing is nurtured
  • Managing themselves and expressing their feelings and needs | te whakahua whakaaro
  • They are kept safe from harm
  • Keeping themselves and others safe from harm | te noho haumaru


Mana whenua

Children and their families experience an environment where: Over time and with guidance and encouragement, children become increasingly capable of:
  • 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
  • They know that they have a place
  • Taking part in caring for this place | te manaaki i te taiao
  • 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
  • They know the limits and boundaries of acceptable behaviour
  • Showing respect for kaupapa, rules and the rights of others | te mahi whakaute


Mana tangata

 Children experience an environment where: Over time and with guidance and encouragement, children become increasingly capable of:
  • There are equitable opportunities for learning, irrespective of gender, ability, age, ethnicity or background
  • Treating others fairly and including them in play | te ngākau makuru
  • They are affirmed as individuals
  • Recognising and appreciating their own ability to learn | te rangatiratanga
  • They are encouraged to learn with and alongside others
  • Using a range of strategies and skills to play and learn with others | te ngākau aroha


Mana reo

Children experience an environment where:  Over time and with guidance and encouragement, children become increasingly capable of: 
  • They develop non-verbal communication skills for a range of purposes
  • Using gesture and movement to express themselves | he kōrero ā-tinana
  • They develop verbal communication skills for a range of purposes
  • Understanding oral language3 and using it for a range of purposes | he kōrero ā-waha
  • They experience the stories and symbols of their own and other cultures
  • Enjoying hearing4 stories and retelling and creating them | he kōrero paki
  • Recognising print symbols and concepts and using them with enjoyment, meaning and purpose | he kōrero tuhituhi
  • Recognising mathematical symbols and concepts and using them with enjoyment, meaning and purpose | he kōrero pāngarau
  • They discover different ways to be creative and expressive
  • Expressing their feelings and ideas using a wide range of materials and modes | he kōrero auaha


Mana aotūroa

 Children experience an environment where: Over time and with guidance and encouragement, children become increasingly capable of:
  • Their play is valued as meaningful learning and the importance of spontaneous play is recognised
  • Playing, imagining, inventing and experimenting | te whakaaro me te tūhurahura i te pūtaiao
  • They gain confidence in and control of their bodies
  • Moving confidently and challenging themselves physically | te wero ā-tinana
  • They learn strategies for active exploration, thinking and reasoning
  • Using a range of strategies for reasoning and problem solving | te hīraurau hopanga
  • They develop working theories for making sense of the natural, social, physical and material worlds
  • Making sense of their worlds by generating and refining working theories | te rangahau me te mātauranga 


3. In this document, ‘oral language’ encompasses any method of communication the child uses as a first language; this includes New Zealand Sign Language and, for children who are non-verbal, alternative and augmentative communication (AAC).

4. For children who are deaf or hard of hearing, ‘hearing’ includes watching.