Celebrating and revising Te Whariki

Kia ora tatou

Time has flown by! My plans for a monthly blog post have clearly been derailed…

It is twenty years since our internationally-acclaimed early childhood curriculum was released by the Ministry of Education. Its development was remarkable, and included some “flying under the radar” of policy officials (see Sarah Te One’s chapter in Joce Nuttall’s edited book “Weaving Te Whariki” if you are unfamiliar with this story). Since then the sector has largely continued to fly under the radar until the Taskforce report of 2011 and Advisory Group on Early Learning (AGEL) report in 2015 which both recommended a careful look at the ways Te Whariki was being interpreted and used in the sector. The AGEL report also recommended an update and revision of the curriculum.

Earlier this year Nancy Bell was appointed Director of Early Learning at the Ministry (what happened to ECE?) and in July asked for expressions of interest in participating in this update. To cut a long story short I was honoured to be selected to be part of the writing team to update and revise the document – in a relatively short time frame compared to the three years allotted to the original document. As Nancy said, ECE has always had a spirit that tackled tasks head-on. We have met regularly and written and rewritten furiously in between as kaitiaki for this precious taonga. We are fortunate that the original writers and significant others in the sector, along with a range of teachers/kaiako across the country, have provided us with helpful and constructive feedback. The MOE changed a lot from the 1993 draft that lost a lot of the spirit, complexity, context and detail of the 1996 document and we are hopeful we can put this to rights in this revision. Part of my responsibilities in this mission has been to revise early sections of the document. I am of course trying to highlight working theories more explicitly and only time will tell if I have been successful … .

Meantime it’s been wonderful to hear of celebrations around the country for our curriculum document. This post highlights a video made by NZEI, an excellent video apart from one thing – you guessed it! Nothing about working theories and all about learning dispositions. This has prompted me to take a few minutes just before another trip to Wellington for a writers’ hui to post the link and remind us all that:

Attention to children’s working theories – their ideas, critical thinking, and emerging and ongoing meaning making – is the partner to learning dispositions in creating children with strong identities as learners, equipped with the knowledge, skills, strategies, attitudes, expectations and values to take them further in lifelong learning.

Enjoy the video.



Ministry of Education. (2015). Report of the Advisory Group on Early Learning. Wellington: Author. http://www.education.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Ministry/consultations/Report-of-the-Advisory-Group-on-Early-Learning.pdf  

Early Childhood Education Taskforce. (2011). An agenda for amazing children: Final report of the Early Childhood Education (ECE) Taskforce. http://www.taskforce.ece.govt.nz/reference-downloads/


2 thoughts on “Celebrating and revising Te Whariki

  1. Andrea January 12, 2017 / 10:03 am

    Now that the draft has been released, what are your thoughts?


    • Helen Hedges January 25, 2017 / 3:14 am

      Hi Andrea

      Thanks for your interest. It is hard to comment briefly when I don’t know your background or interest in this, but the draft was a draft – useful for consultation and to seek perspectives. Of course these then spanned the entire field of possibilities since ECE is such a diverse sector … but we read all of them carefully and thoughtfully a couple of weeks ago and are working towards a final version now that is inclusive of the diversity we value. Did you contribute to the survey or a submission?


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