The Ministry of Education has recently led a process to update New Zealand’s early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki. This is the first update since the original publication was released. It is intended to support effective curriculum implementation across all early learning settings for current and future generations of children.
Tēnā koutou, ngā mihi nui ki a koutou katoa. I’m sorry that I can’t be there in person to participate in the formal launch, the acknowledgement of the update of the Te Whāriki Curriculum but I did want to take a minute to make sure that you understood how much I appreciate all the work that so many of you have done to ensure that our world leading curriculum is updated, is refreshed, is future-focused to make sure that our tamariki mokopuna, our youngest and earliest learners are getting the opportunities that this curriculum outlines for them. And it is world leading. Not only in its evidence-based approach to early learning, but actually in what is a very distinctive feature of our New Zealand education system, the bicultural platform, the bilingual framing, and the anticipation that this will form the whāriki for our increasingly multicultural and shared future.
So I am just so delighted today that we have this document and of course that it incorporates, in a really physical way, the bicultural approach that we are taking to Te Whāriki. It reflects the fact that this curriculum is built off tikanga, is built off the rich, deep well of Māori and iwi cultural experience, and incorporates all those features of who we are in our multiple diversity in the ancestries that we enjoy, and how we bring those forward into our present and provide for our future. I know that very technical things such as the reduction in the number of outcomes to be far more crisp and what it is we are expecting. I know that we are still providing for the social and cultural identity of our young people, but also looking at stronger links with The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga and how the cognitive development of the child continues in that totally integrated way.
I’m very aware that there are diverse choices that parents, family, and whānau make about what they want for their children and that Te Whāriki anticipates, reflects, and supports that diversity. So thank you all very much from the original conceivers, writers, those who have gone on to develop and implement it. The practitioners who have given their feedback about how this can be improved. Those who know what the link is with those curriculum as our kids go on into the more formal education setting. I have been the beneficiary of a mother committed to all the best qualities of early learning and a mother who was an early adopter of child-centred early learning, play-based approaches to development, and of course when kohanga reo was first conceived of and introduced into our dialect, really, of what is available.
So, I very much want to acknowledge the National Trust of the Kohanga Reo specifically, as well as all those others who have contributed. I look forward to seeing this have greater effect on our youngest learners and how this connects to our Communities of Learning, our Kāhui Ako, our new operationally based approach to ensuring that every child is the centre of their own pathway and have the opportunity to be supported in the practice of their personal rangatiratanga. Nō reira e hika mā, tēnei te mihi ki a koutou katoa e waha nei, e hanga nei tēnei kaupapa ātaahu. Ngā mihi
Te Whāriki was originally developed by writers Dr Helen May (senior lecturer in early childhood education) and Margaret Carr (senior lecturer in early childhood studies) from the University of Waikato, working in partnership with Dr Tamati Muturangi Reedy (from 1996, Dean of Te Pua Wānanga ki te Ao, University of Waikato) and Tilly Te Koingo Reedy (nominated by the Kōhanga Reo National Trust).
The metaphor of the whāriki, with its principles | kaupapa whakahaere and strands | whakahirahira was provided by Tamati and Tilly Reedy, who drew upon traditional Māori concepts that had shaped the kaupapa of ngā kōhanga reo.
Helen and Margaret worked across the diverse early childhood education sector to achieve broad commitment to this framing and philosophy. They developed guidelines for practice that was empowering and inclusive.
Te Whāriki was published in draft in 1993 and was regarded as innovative and world leading. The Ministry of Education subsequently adapted this draft and published a final version in 1996. This version has shaped early childhood education practice in Aotearoa for over 20 years.
In 2015, an update of Te Whāriki was recommended by the Advisory Group on Early Learning (AGEL), appointed by the Minister of Education to advise on ways to strengthen curriculum implementation and early learning continuity. Read the full report of the Advisory Group on Early Learning.
In 2016, the Ministry of Education appointed a team of writers to undertake the Te Whāriki update. This group included academics and practitioners with specialist expertise across a range of early learning contexts. Read more about the writing team.
The original writers of Te Whāriki – Emeritus Professor Helen May, Professor Margaret Carr, Professor Sir Tamati Reedy and Lady Tilly Reedy – were engaged as advisors to the update project and provided guidance at each stage of its development.
An updated draft of Te Whāriki was released for public consultation in November 2016. Over 1400 people attended consultation hui and almost 800 individuals and organisations contributed to an online survey. This feedback was carefully considered in the preparation of the final document. (You can find summaries of the feedback on the draft Te Whāriki at the bottom of the page.)
The 2017 Te Whāriki has been updated to reflect changes to context, theory, and practice. The curriculum for ngā kōhanga reo, previously described as part B is now identified as Te Whāriki a te Kōhanga Reo.
The updated Te Whāriki consists of two documents in one: Te Whāriki: He whāriki mātauranga mō ngā mokopuna o Aotearoa Early childhood curriculum and Te Whāriki a te Kōhanga Reo. The first (which retains the title of the original 1996 document) is for use by all early learning services except kōhanga reo affiliated to the National Trust. The print edition of the two documents is formatted as a flipbook.
The two documents describe alternative curriculum pathways of equal status. Both share a common framework of principles and strands.
‘Te Whāriki’ can be used as a short title for either document/curriculum (or, informally, the combined documents) as long as it is clear from the context what is meant.
The update for Te Whāriki: He whāriki mātauranga mō ngā mokopuna o Aotearoa Early childhood curriculum includes a stronger focus on bicultural practice, the importance of language, culture, and identity, and the inclusion of all children.
The learning outcomes have been reviewed and condensed to twenty to enable a greater focus on “what matters here” when designing local curriculum.
Links to The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa have been set out to support children’s transition pathways and learning continuity. The overall structure has been streamlined for easier navigation.
The aspiration for children, bicultural structure, principles, strands and goals remain the same. In this way Te Whāriki remains a unique and visionary framework for lifelong learning.
Two of the writers of Te Whāriki (2017) gave live presentations to a group of Curriculum Champions. You can view clips from these presentations by Lesley Rameka and Claire McLachlan in the videos below.
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