School Curricula Guides

Te Whāriki

Te Whāriki is the early childhood curriculum of the New Zealand Ministry of Education. It is highly adaptive to its environment.
Te Whāriki
Country of Origin: New Zealand
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Te Whāriki is the early years framework of New Zealand's Ministry of Education. Its point of difference seems to lie in how it is able to take on board and bind different approaches, philosophies, and contexts and to bind them together into something that will be identifiable, but unique from place to place.

In its own words the actual curriculum will be "provided by the people, places, and things in the child’s environment: the adults, the other children, the physical environment, and the resources.

"It integrates care and education and includes both specifically planned experiences and activities and interactions that arise spontaneously."

A whāriki is the Maori word for mat - a very clever analogy in that the framework is woven from different principles, goals programmes, philosophies, structures, and environments all combining to form the distinctive patterns of the 'whāriki'.

The non-moving principles include Empowerment, Holistic Development, Family and Community and Relationships

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

The framework is adaptive to allow "distinctive patterns" to come from:

  • cultural perspectives
  • structural differences, such as in sessional or full-day programmes;
  • organisational differences, such as in kindergartens or child care centres;
  • different environments, such as in home-based or centre-based programmes;
  • philosophical emphases, such as in Playcentre, Montessori, or Rudolf Steiner programmes;
  • different resources which are available in urban and rural settings;
  • the ways in which the local community participates;
  • the age range of children in the programme.

There are a number of nurseries in the UAE that have picked up on the framework. Given its adaptability to an environment, we think it's a good fit for a multicultural, philosophically diverse UAE. At the same time it would be hard to recommend a Te Whāriki nursery in isolation - each can be very different once outside its general principles.

That said, a Te Whāriki nursery should be more likely to be aware of its context than one simply following the framework transposed from another country.


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