February 2021

From Acting General Manager Thomas Tawhiri

Kia ora

I ngā tini āhuatanga o te wā nei.

Nau mai hoki mai koutou ki te tau hou nei. Welcome back.


As this pānui goes out Auckland will go into Level 3 for three days and the rest of Aotearoa into Level 2. Please observe the Covid-19 rules related to Level 2 & 3. Claire Gullidge, our Communications Manager has updated the information on our website. There is a new folder under COVID-19 > Latest Updates which can be accessed here: February 2021 Updates | Playcentre this contains the announcement, links to alert level information, and the latest MoE information. The Virtual Village resources remain available for you here

We are continuing to work through our Phase two roll out and at this stage we are filling the new positions created from the restructure. I have been informed by the Playcentre Trustees that they are working with an employment agency advising them on the appointment of a new General Manager. At this stage I do not have a date for appointment but will inform you as soon as this date is known. The Regional Managers are currently interviewing people to fill the new positions from the restructure in their respective regions and this is progressing well. We also have completed the short list process for the new National Service Manager and Pedagogical Manager roles and we will appoint these in the next month.

An important piece of work that will be required is a review of our policies, processes and documentation. I have spoken with our Playcentre Trustees and this work will be undertaken by a fixed term Project Lead to ensure our policies reflect Playcentre’s direction.  As part of the Phase Two roll out and the focus to improve our Playcentre IT infrastructure we have been engaging with a couple of IT providers that can enable us to raise our capability and efficiency in this area. I am excited about the possibilities for Playcentre moving forward and will keep you updated on progress with this initiative.

The Ministry of Health has updated their recommendations on the following three areas:

  1. a safe physical environment when eating
  2.  first aid
  3. providing appropriate food.

HS22 (Supervision while eating) now states:

We have clarified with the Ministry of Education on what this specifically means for Playcentre’s and updated our choking hazards infographic. Please see link below.

Choking hazards infographic

From April 8 2021, HS25 will be changing to require that for up to every 25 children who are attending, an adult with a current first aid qualification must be present at all times. This is a reduction on the current limit of up to 50 children. We recommend all sessions plan to have a minimum of 2 First Aiders on every session, but if you have larger sessions (20+ tamariki) we recommend you aim to increase this to 3-4 first aiders per session to ensure you are well covered before the new requirements come in.

Two years ago we were incredibly lucky when we managed to negotiate a package that moved all our centres from Cashbooks edition to Standard plan Xero Subscription. Unfortunately, that contract has now ended and was put in place by Xero as an interim measure while they developed their new Starter Plan. We have been in many discussions over the last 6 months with Xero and have managed to agree a new contract that brings all our centres onto the Starter plan from 1 March 2021 with no additional cost to centres. Starter edition give centres all the functionality of the standard plan they are currently used to but there are some limits – notably 5 bills and 20 invoices per month, which we acknowledge may not be enough for some of our larger centres. However this is still a huge improvement from the Cash additions that the levy originally covered. Before implementing this change we did do an analysis of use and noted less than a third of our centres used these functions at all and only 7 centre regularly exceeded the limits in Starter plan, with such small usage the cost to bring all centre up to Standard Plan was prohibitive.

For centres who do process a large number of bills and invoices the option to upgrade will be available at a cost of $20 per month. For more information on the difference between Starter and Standard plans please click here.

Playcentre Open Week is coming up on 15th – 19th March 2021. This year the focus is on encouraging potential members to visit their local centre and see what Playcentre is all about. We have a new PR campaign with a storytelling theme that will be launched in the coming weeks. We will have an extensive online campaign in the weeks leading up to the open week. We will also provide flyers, posters, press release, adverts and social media graphics over the next few weeks to support centres in promoting Playcentre Open Week. 

We will continue to roll out the PR campaign for Playcentre Open Week as planned.  However, given the recent changes to the alert levels  we will monitor the situation and can reschedule the date if required.

Based on feedback received by centres and staff we are reintroducing The Playcentre Bulletin.  The Playcentre Bulletin provides you with updates and need-to-know information to assist your centre. It will include information like:

  • The General Managers update;
  • Information from your Trustee Board;
  • Information for Treasurers;
  • Information for Education Officers;
  • Information for PR Officers;
  • Information for Bi-Cultural Officers;
  • Updates on licensing requirements;
  • Information on PLD;
  • New infographics;
  • Event information;
  • Policies and procedures updates; and
  • Volunteer of the month section.

It will be a monthly Bulletin that will be released to centres and staff on the first Monday of every month. The first edition for 2021 will be released on Monday 1 March. It is released to your email address and will be available online here.

Finally, can I ask everyone to recognise that we are in a situation of having to ‘build an aeroplane, while flying it’ at the same time. This means we will not get everything right first time.  I encourage everyone to be patient and to expect that sometimes things won’t be perfect.  All you need to do is give constructive and positive feedback (ideally in person) around what’s working well, and what’s not.  For those designing and delivering changes, please look for and expect feedback – positive or negative – and use it to improve things as quickly as you can. We need to raise the bar for Playcentre as the Early Childhood Learning space continues to evolve in the wider community. The feedback we receive will help us do better for each other and for our people.  Kia kaha, kia toa, kia manawanui.


Ngā mihi me ngā manaakitanga

Thomas Tawhiri

Acting General Manager