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The whāriki

Content from pages 10–11 of Te Whāriki: Early Childhood Curriculum


He whāriki hei whakamana i te mokopuna, hei kawe i ngā wawata

A whāriki that empowers the child and carries our aspirations



  • Empowerment | Whakamana
  • Holistic Development | Kotahitanga
  • Family and Community | Whānau Tangata
  • Relationships | Ngā Hononga


  • Wellbeing | Mana Atua
  • Belonging | Mana Whenua
  • Contribution | Mana Tangata
  • Communication | Mana Reo
  • Exploration | Mana Aotūroa

The whāriki or woven mat is used in this document as a metaphor for the ECE curriculum, in which four curriculum principles are interwoven with five curriculum strands. Together, these principles and strands give expression to the vision for children (pages 5 and 6) that is at the heart of Te Whāriki.

Kaiako in ECE settings weave together the principles and strands, in collaboration with children, parents, whānau and community, to create a local curriculum for their setting. Understood in this way, the curriculum or whāriki is a ‘mat for all to stand on’.

Whāriki and raranga have symbolic and spiritual meaning for Māori. Weaving a whāriki takes knowledge, skill and time. It is almost always done collaboratively. When finished, an intricately woven whāriki is a taonga valued for its artistry and kaupapa. Pasifika share with Māori the tradition of weaving whāriki, using techniques and patterns that are specific to their particular Pacific Island nation.

The whāriki can also be understood as a metaphor for the developing child. Interpreted in this way, as in Te Whāriki a te Kōhanga Reo, the whāriki includes four dimensions of human development: tinana, hinengaro, wairua and whatumanawa.

The kōwhiti whakapae whāriki depicted below symbolises the start of a journey that will take the traveller beyond the horizon. The grey represents Te Kore and te pō, the realm of potential and the start of enlightenment. The green represents new life and growth. The purple, red, blue and teal have many differing cultural connotations and are used here to highlight the importance of the principles as the foundations of the curriculum.

The woven whāriki