Te Whariki


te wharikiTe Whariki is the New Zealand Early Childhood Curriculum used by all early childhood services in this country. It is a bi-cultural document written in both English and Maori that outlines the desires and aspirations for New Zealand infants, toddlers and children from birth to school age. It values the partnership between, parents, teachers and families. It also recognises the holistic, socio-cultural way in which children learn; encompassing the home, the early childhood setting and the wider community. Developed in 1996 by the New Zealand Ministry of Education, Te Whariki has set a precedent for early childhood education throughout the world.

Te Whariki is founded on the aspiration that children:

“Grow up as competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in        mind, body, and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge       that they make a valued contribution to society.”

The term ‘Te Whariki’ literally means ‘the woven mat’. This ‘whariki’ or mat is woven from principles, strands and learning goals that work together to form a strong foundation for children in the early childhood years.

The four principles at the centre of Te Whariki are:

  1. Empowerment – The early childhood curriculum empowers the child to learn and grow.
  2. Holistic development – The early childhood curriculum reflects the holistic way children learn and grow.
  3. Family and community – The wider world of family and community is an integral part of the early childhood curriculum.
  4. Relationships – Children learn through responsive and reciprocal relationships with people, places, and things.

From these principles arise five strands, or essential learning areas:

  1. Mana atua – Wellbeing (The health and well-being of the child are protected and nurtured)
  2. Mana tangata – Contribution (Opportunities for learning are equitable, and each child’s contribution is valued)
  3. Mana whenua – Belonging (Children and their families feel a sense of belonging)
  4. Mana reo – Communication (The languages and symbols of their own and other cultures are promoted and protected)
  5. Mana aoturoa – Exploration (The child learns through active exploration of the environment.)

Within these five strands, Te Whariki outlines specific goals and learning outcomes for children.

Te Whariki should be evident in all early childhood settings. It should be visible within the programme and influence all decision making, planning and evaluation. It should dictate the teaching styles used and the way in which adults interact with children. It should influence the way resources are presented and the way the environment is facilitated. It should be reflected in children’s profile books, wall displays and all correspondence with parents. Te Whariki underpins every aspect of early childhood in New Zealand.