Establishing a certificated puna kōhungahunga (Māori language playgroup)

"Te piko o te mahuri Tera te tipu o te rakau - The bow in the branch is indicative of how the tree will grow."

'Establishing a Certificated Puna Kōhungahunga' is a guide for whānau who want to set up a puna kōhungahunga.

Ministry of Education staff are available to work with whānau to set up a puna kōhungahunga and to get certification. Their focus is on quality early childhood education programmes for children.

If you are interested in setting up a certificated puna kōhungahunga contact your local Ministry of Education office. 

Licensing Criteria Cover

How to get started

Before you start it is a good idea to contact your local Ministry of Education office to find out if there are other puna kōhungahunga already in your area as you may want to join one of them. You could also approach your Citizens Advice Bureau, Plunket, Parents Centre or your ante-natal group for information.

You will be asked by staff at your local Ministry of Education office why you want to set up a puna kōhungahunga and what you hope to achieve. You need to be sure you have enough whānau prepared to be involved in running the puna kōhungahunga.

You need to think about what days the group will meet each week and how many hours the group will operate each day, remembering that no child can attend for more than four hours in any one day.

  • Finding a suitable venue
    • You will need to find a suitable place to run your puna kōhungahunga from – certificated puna kōhungahunga cannot operate from private homes. They can operate from places that are used by other community groups.

      It is important the facilities and equipment are safe and comfortable for tamariki and whānau, and reflect the culture and purpose of the puna kōhungahunga.

      Things to ask yourself and your group when choosing a venue could include:

      • Would our tamariki be safe here?
      • Would I be happy bringing my tamaiti here?
      • Would I feel happy here as well?
      • Will this venue be suitable for the type of activities that happen in a playgroup?
      • Is there enough space to store equipment and will it be secure?
      • How much does this place cost and what does this entitle us to?
      • When is it available?
      • Will we have ongoing access to this venue?
      • How are people going to get to this venue?
      • Is there parking and public transport close to this venue?

      More information about what is needed to meet the requirements to become a certificated playgroup is on More about Certification.

  • Organising the equipment and resources
    • There needs to be a wide range of equipment and resources available for tamariki that are fun and educational. They should be put out in a way that tamariki can choose what they want to play with based on their interests. These can include natural and recyclable resources that are free, and homemade resources.

      Some puna kōhungahunga find it helpful to provide activities, equipment and resources that allow for:

      • family play and drama
      • creative play
      • exploring language, reading and writing, and communicating
      • physically active playconstructive play
      • exploratory play
      • manipulative play.

      More information about choosing equipment and resources is on Are the equipment and resources suitable?

  • Planning the education programme
    • All certificated puna kōhungahunga need to have an education programme that follows the curriculum2 for playgroups. This provides the structure for everything that happens, and the way in which it happens, in a puna kōhungahunga.

      In a puna kōhungahunga, 'Curriculum' means all the experiences, activities and events that happen to help tamariki learn and develop. Some of these will be planned and others will happen spontaneously.

      Te Whāriki is Aotearoa New Zealand’s early childhood curriculum document. It explains what is seen as important learning for tamariki as well as the kinds of environments that are best for this learning. Te Whāriki’s vision is for tamariki to “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.”

      How this is done will be decided by the whānau in the puna kōhungahunga, in ways that best suit their values, beliefs, interests and resources.

      Things to ask yourself and your group when planning your curriculum:

      • What are our tamariki interested in, trying hard to understand, spending a lot of time doing, finding out about at the moment?
      • Are we giving our tamariki opportunities, activities and resources that support them to continue to do these things?

      More information about providing an education programme that meets the requirements of a certificated playgroup is on Does our education programme follow the Ministry’s curriculum?