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Welcome to the Office of Early Childhood Education

We are New Zealand’s national body for early childhood education and care

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What We Do

The Office of ECE drives high-quality care, learning and teaching for all infants and young children and high-quality working environments for teachers and service providers.
Teacher supervising infant and young child playing in playground at ECE centre.

Our sector is widespread and diverse

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Common Questions, FAQ

This is a formal arrangement for the care, teaching and learning of children – babies, toddlers, and young children (up to the age of 6 years in NZ).

‘Early Learning’ is a slang term that we see being used sometimes. Its use is depreciating of the profession and the sector. 

The correct term is ‘Early Childhood Education’.  Early childhood education provides for both learning and teaching to take place. And, quality teaching necessitates care and an environment in which children’s social and emotional development and wellbeing matters.

Services licensed under the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations (2008) are early childhood education and care services. ‘ECE’ also forms a part of the Education and Training Act (2020).

Many people are involved in teaching – including parents – but there are specific requirements for recognition as a ‘teacher’.

A ‘qualified ECE teacher’ is a person who has completed training in early childhood education and gained a qualification recognised by the NZ Qualifications Authority for teaching in an ECE service.

A ‘registered teacher’ is a person who holds an early childhood education, primary school, or secondary school teaching qualification and has registered with the Teaching Council as a qualified teacher.

A ‘certificated teacher’ has completed registration with the Teaching Council and holds a practising certificate

The ECE curriculum document Te Whāriki uses ‘kaiako’ instead of ‘teacher’, and defines a kaiako as any person who has “responsibility for the care and education of children in an ECE setting”.  These people may, or may not be, trained, qualified, registered and certificated.

ECE service providers are individuals, community groups, organisations and companies that own or govern one or more ECE services licensed under the Education (ECE Services) 2008 Act.

The largest charitable providers of ECE are:

  • National Te Kohanga Reo Trust (around 400 centres, community-based)
  • Playcentre Aotearoa (around 400 centres, community-based)
  • BestStart (around 250 services, provided by the Wright Family Foundation)
  • Auckland Kindergarten Association (around 100 centres, community-based)
  • Barnardos (around 40 centres and home-based services, community-based)


The largest commercial providers of ECE are:

  • Evolve Education (around 120 centres in NZ with further centres in Australia. It is a registered company listed on the NZ stock exchange)
  • Provincial Education Ltd (around 60 centres owned by Katie and Andrew Phillipps and two fund management companies)
  • Kindercare Ltd (around 50 services owned by Glennie and Allan Wendelborn and managed today by son Kelly)
  • Rainbow Group of Companies (around 40 services, including centres and PORSE home-based, owned by Bhavini and Rahul Doshi)

See the national register of services at

Walk around your local area to see what centres are within walking distance.  Check out home-based care options.  People such as Plunket Nurses and the children’s librarian at your local Library can be good to chat with for their local knowledge.

To make a complaint against an ECE service there are direct and indirect options available.

If your complaint is about a specific worker or teacher at the service, tell their employer so they can investigate and see if a resolution can be found.

Should the employer or service provider be a registered teacher and the person you have concerns about, you may make a complaint to the Ministry of Education (or indirectly using My ECE’s online complaint form).   

The Teaching Council deals with complaints against registered teachers. Members of the public can make a report direct to the Teaching Council should there be concerns about a teacher’s behaviour or competence. However, the process is not confidential and copies of the complaint form and any documents you provide to the Council will be provided to the teacher.

Note that employers (or former employers) must make a mandatory report to the Teaching Council about a teacher in circumstances that include dismissal, serious misconduct, competency issues, or if the teacher leaves employment following a complaint being made to the service provider and within 12 months of the complaint. 

Getting honest feedback from parents is vital to maintaining and improving quality for children.

Find out about the parent survey service

See the “Formula for Quality ECE

We got the Minister of Education, NZEI, and early childhood groups talking about pay parity with school teachers when they were adamant that pay equity (based on pay rates for a comparable male-dominated occupation) or market rates of pay should prevail. READ MORE.

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It’s been more than 20 years since Dr Sarah Alexander’s ground breaking research which highlighted the low proportion of men in early childhood teaching and identified gender bias. Yet, the issue has yet to be properly addressed in education policy.  READ MORE.

At The OECE we have a deep knowledge that can be used to better inform recruitment and employment practices. We can provide political leaders and decision-makers with guidance on how to address gender bias in education policy and achieve gender-balance in the ECE workforce.   

A scholarship award is provided as a way of saying to men that they are welcome to become early childhood teachers – the ‘Men in ECE Invitation Award’.

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