Update 26 November 2021

26 November 2021

Looking ahead

I first met Rodney when he and his wife moved in as our neighbours. Over the years since then, he has become a very special person in my life, a real mentor and in many ways a father to me since I lost my own Dad 20 years ago. Rodney has spoken at numerous international conferences and written many books and I travelled with him across Africa and up and down Aotearoa New Zealand as his “bag carrier and security team” on a number of his speaking tours. On Wednesday morning last week, Rodney went for his usual morning walk and just around the corner from his house, he had a heart attack, fell and hit his head on the pavement. He was rushed to Wellington hospital and due to the trauma to his brain, was put into an induced coma. On Friday morning he died.

On Tuesday morning this week I sat in his funeral listening to the tributes that had come in from around the world. They were wonderful but all I could focus on was the casket at the front of the chapel. I realised how shocked I was at the sudden and brutal nature of his death. Grief affects us all in different ways and I was feeling the weight of mine. Then I looked at Rodney’s wife Jean and son Mark sitting there with their family and saw their grief as well. In that moment, I heard one of Rodney’s famous phrases just as if he was standing there saying it to me himself. When I had the opportunity to say a few words to the family, I shared that phrase with them. It brought smiles and tears and at the same time it also brought comfort but probably more importantly, it gave us all a lift and a strength to move forward.

I don’t believe you ever “get over” losing a loved one as they have occupied such a major part of our lives however we do need to learn to adjust our lives moving forward without them being there physically with us. In my own personal experience, I have found the way to do that is continually remember all the great things they said and did, the amazing person they were and weave that into what I do and who I am day by day and to be empowered by them.

Over the past week, across the motu, we have started to feel the loss of local Playcentre members as a result of the Government mandate and this has come through to me in the many conversations I am having with local centre members and staff. As more confirmed vaccination returns from volunteer members come in, and the number continues to rise on a daily basis from the 6,000 I referred to last week, the picture is slowly becoming clearer. From all my conversations, I don’t believe the current numbers are a true reflection of the impact of the mandate and as we devote more time and resource to clarifying those numbers, I am confident that we will see the number of confirmed volunteers rise significantly. We are continuing our consultation with staff who have been impacted by the mandate and I am now aware of some resignations as a result of the decisions people have taken. I am very saddened by those decisions but fully respect them. This is a tough time for us as an organisation, as a movement, as a whānau. We can’t change what has happened, we don’t “get over” the loss and we need to learn to adjust our approach moving forward in the strong hope that we will be able to welcome back everyone as soon as possible.

As we continue to ask the questions “How do we grow more families together?” followed by “How do we get more tamariki and whānau into our existing centres?” and then “How do we open new centres where there is not one right now?” I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Please use our feedback process to put them forward as there is an amazing depth of experience, skill, creativity and innovation across all our staff, volunteers and local centres that I want to unleash on our future. We also need to focus our attention on the start of 2022, just a few short weeks away now. Across the motu, local centres are now starting to meet to discuss how to attract new whānau in for the new term and this year in particular we need every centre focussed on this. For those in Auckland still under the Level 3 lockdown those discussions may well have to be via Zoom until the 3rd December when the new traffic light system comes into effect. On that front, we are engaged with the Ministry of Education on the implementation of that system right now. As we look forward, I want to be very clear that the number one priority in all we do from local centre daily sessions to planning for the new term to conversations with the Prime Minister is the safety of our tamariki, our parents, our staff and our wider whānau. Nothing we do or say must compromise that but rather it must actively enhance it.

Looking further ahead into March, its Playcentre Open Week and I’d love to see 2022 being the year that we blow our trumpets the loudest, we bang our drums the hardest, that we mobilise our local communities as we have never done before and that we see the Playcentre philosophy broadcast far and wide across Aotearoa New Zealand. Let’s make 2022 the year of Whānau tupu ngātahi.

Yes, we have to face the immediate challenges in front of us and they are tough ones but as my mentor, father and very, very dear friend Rodney said “The best is yet to come!”.

Ngā mihi nui me ngā mihi aroha,


We have added the following questions to the Frequently Asked Question Bank:

Do cleaners need to be vaccinated?

The Ministry of Education guidelines currently state that cleaners outside of licensed hours do not need to be vaccinated, as they do not come into contact with children.  

The exception to this is a Playcentre that is located on school grounds. Inline with the vaccine mandate and Ministry of Education guidelines if an ECE is located on school grounds then everyone would need to be vaccinated if the cleaning is while other children are attending school.

Self assessment form – We have received feedback on the self assessment form and have decided at this time to remove it. So please disregard the self assessment form provided last week. It is subject to change under the Covid-19 Protection Framework (traffic light system). Please continue to ensure that you follow current health precautions.

Note: Hire cleaning protocol

Current cleaning contract requirements in relation to the hire cleaning protocol are currently being reviewed. We will provide an update next week.


Under the new Covid-19 Protection Framework (also known as the traffic light system) we have been advised that licensed ECE’s and Playcentres can be open at all three settings. Each setting however will have different requirements.  

Auckland will be in the Red Level from Friday 3rd December. We are yet to have exact advice from the Ministry of Education on specific Playcentre requirements and will provide this as soon as possible.

In the interim, here are some things to consider with your centre whānau regarding re-opening;

  •  Re-opening with Tikanga Māori
  •  Will need to follow new Playcentre Covid Health and Safety Requirements
  • Allow time prior to opening for the Basic Property Checklist to be completed
  • Print and display the latest Playcentre Covid Signage – centres without a printer, please contact your Regional Office.
  • Check your BWOF is still current, if you need assistance please check with your Centre Advisor or your Regional Property Coordinator.
  • Ensure centre phone and tablet are charged and updated to the latest versions – especially the Discover App.
  • Face Coverings are recommended whenever leaving the house under the Covid-19 Framework.  We are yet to have specific advice on Playcentre requirements (which will always exclude young children). We anticipate confirmation on this before 3rd December.
  • First Aid Attestations need to be filled in for all First Aid Certificates that expired on or after 1st August 2021 and records kept at centres (keep with first aid records) – please contact your Regional Office for more details.

The Government has released My Vaccine Pass.  My Vaccine Pass is an official record of your COVID-19 vaccination status for use in Aotearoa New Zealand. More information is available here. Anyone aged 12 and over who has had two COVID-19 vaccinations administered, or who has been given a medical exemption, can now request a My Vaccine Pass.
My Vaccine Pass will give people access to places that require proof of vaccination under the new COVID-19 Protection Framework.  The Government has agreed that access to certain places or services cannot be denied based on a person’s vaccination status. The list of places and services includes the right to education. As the prohibition relates to ‘access to education’, parents who volunteer at an early learning service must still provide proof of vaccination. This might be a pass, but other forms of evidence are also accepted. 

The Vaccine Pass reader is available on your Playcentre tablet. This is a new tool and we are (trying)working to refine the process. To download it, please go into the Play Store on your tablet and select install. Please feel free to trial it at your Playcentre. There is no obligation for people to participate and please be respectful and show Manaakitangi. Feel free to send any feedback through to [email protected]

Thank you for providing such constructive feedback through the COVID-19 feedback form. Each response is valuable and is being considered and discussed as we navigate this situation.

If you have a question or would like clarity on a specific point, please submit this through the COVID-19 feedback form available here:


Just a reminder regarding the questionnaire and further information is also available here on the website under the COVID-19 section, vaccine mandate.

Numbers for those filling out the questionnaire are increasing. For the safety of the children and Playcentre whānau please pass the link on to all members that may have missed it and encourage them to fill it out.

It is the responsibility of each individual to advise us of their vaccination status and not attend Playcentre if they do not comply.

Playcentre Aotearoa are collecting and managing this information at a National Level. Centres are not required to hold a register, or ask other members about their vaccination status. This allows you to focus on your tamariki and your whānau at your centre.


Please be aware that you need to provide any paid employees working in your centre no less than 2 weeks’ notice in writing of your closing dates for the end of term.

At this time please also confirm your opening date for Term 1 2022 with your employees.

When setting this date you should consider the opening and closing dates of local schools in the area when choosing their own closing and opening dates, and should stay in line with the term dates set by MoE – see their website for full information.

Please be aware that if a centre chooses to defer their opening dates beyond Tuesday 9th February, any employees scheduled to work will still be entitled to be paid by the centre.

Ever wondered who you should contact at Playcentre with a centre enquiry?
This infographic takes the most frequently asked questions and shows you who is best placed to answer them.

The effort to reduce the risk of COVID-19 relies on many layers of defence.

The idea behind the Swiss cheese approach is to build in layers of barriers and safeguards. There are many things that an individual or the community can do to further reduce the risk and impact of a COVID-19. Each of the different public health interventions against COVID-19 helps, but that none of them is impenetrable.

The more layers of protection in place, the harder it is for the virus to get through.

Some examples of protection are:

  • Staying home when sick
  • Vaccination
  • Ensure children or staff members with COVID-19 symptoms stay home
  • Using the contact tracing app
  • Getting tested if you have symptoms
  • Physical distancing
  • Good hygiene practices
  • Handwashing
  • Maintain appropriate cleaning regimes
  • Mask wearing
  • Keeping occupied spaces well ventilated
  • Managed isolation

Waiheke Island Playcentre is keeping up connections while their centre is closed. They had a Playcentre meet-up on Onetangi beach and were lucky enough to be joined by some dolphins!