Tēnā koutou katoa


A new name, a new constitution – we have turned the corner but where to next?

Amalgamation means many things to many people within Playcentre and the majority of you are probably just pleased that what has been in process for many, many years has finally come about.
For me what is most important is what we do from here on in.

Tuesday 4 June 2019 is the day Playcentre Aotearoa officially became a single, consolidated charitable trust but it didn’t mean that it wasn’t business as usual. Business as usual for me is now a series of meetings, quite often with the Ministry of Education, as we begin the process of reviewing our licensing and education compliance requirements as noted in my last bulletin message.

I also appreciate that business as usual for centres is striving to meet those compliance requirements while hoping for news on a reprieve. I do want to assure you that the Trustee Board members and every member of the management team are aware of the issues facing centres and we are raising them as often as we can with those who have the power to make changes. I also acknowledge that I owe a number of responses to centres who have raised issues with me and I will be coming back to you as soon as I have meaningful information to answer your questions. As you can imagine it did take time for Playcentre to get to where it is now and in hindsight we may have made some different decisions. Unravelling the decision pathways and working out alternatives that will ultimately benefit our tamariki and the wider Playcentre whānau, needs to be a carefully considered process if it is to have a positive outcome.

Today, Wednesday 6 June, I had the pleasure to represent Playcentre Aotearoa at the quarterly Early Childhood Advisory Committee meeting – an advisory group to the Ministry of Education. It is an opportunity to inform the sector and the Ministry about issues pertaining to Playcentre and also be informed on issues that will impact Playcentre as an early childhood education provider. One positive outcome of the meeting is that I get to directly address the Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, as he attends part of the full day meeting along with Iona Halstead the Secretary for- Education. Today I congratulated the Minister on his Government’s funding boost to our colleagues at Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust and also asked him what signal Playcentre Aotearoa could take from the announcement given that Playcentre is seeking funding for the very same issues. The draft Strategic Plan for Early Learning clearly sets out in Goal 4 the aim to co-design an appropriate funding model with both Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust and the New Zealand Playcentre Federation. I didn’t expect a detailed answer but it is important to ensure that Playcentre issues are raised with the Minister and we will keep asking until such time as we get a positive answer. The point in asking the question is that I get to explain to the Minister the very issues that centre members raise with me – support for volunteers, building maintenance costs, lack of adequate funding, licensing constraints and the potential closure of centres, especially in areas that commercial day care operators do not support. As General Manager my responsibility as part of the Playcentre Aotearoa collective is to continually advocate on behalf of centres until such time as we see action. I acknowledge that it would be good to see this happen quickly but understandably it will take some time but if you don’t ask you won’t receive.

Playcentre Aotearoa is now one organisation, a collective of centres with the vision of Whānau tupu ngātahi – Families growing together. This means that every centre has a collective responsibility to the organisation, the wider Playcentre Aotearoa whānau and to the ongoing development and growth of Te Whānau Tupu Ngātahi O Aotearoa. As one consolidated charitable trust we have all agreed, via the process of amalgamation, to pool our assets and resources to ensure that the organisation prospers.

The success of Playcentre is its adherence to the Philosophy and section 5 of our new constitution sets out what is required in order to use the name Playcentre. I am aware that there are centres considering a change to their licensing and instead of being a Playcentre they wish to be a Playgroup only to avoid participating in the Playcentre Aotearoa adult education programme and meeting the compliance costs of licensing as a Playcentre. It is timely to remind centres that this is in breach of our Constitution and is a process that needs to be negotiated with the Trustee Board. Playgroups are resourced and supported by the organisation in an effort to build them up to achieving Playcentre status but not as an option to avoid education and licensing requirements. Centres operating as Playgroups are not levied, they continue to receive operational support and the organisation continues to cover overhead costs such as insurance, information technology and centre maintenance only on the basis that they will actively work to reinstate their Playcentre license.

Playgroups that do not have a plan to work towards achieving Playcentre status will be regarded as entering a recess process that will eventually lead to closure as per the Playcentre constitution. As a collective we will actively work to ensure that this does not happen as we want every centre to succeed and grow. Everyone would agree however that it is not fair to expect the other collective members to financially support a centre that purposely chooses not to adhere to the Playcentre constitution. We all have an obligation to those that built Playcentre, those that developed the Playcentre Philosophy, those that currently contribute to the wider Playcentre whānau and those who will be part of Playcentre’s future. To ensure that all of our centres are aware of their collective obligations we will provide a detailed Playgroup Policy and Procedure document to clearly outline the expectations of Playcentre Aotearoa on this matter.

And finally, an update on our alternative to the Community Organisation Grant Scheme (COGS) funding.
As you will be aware the changes are as follows:

COGS: The changes to the COGS funding criteria means that as centres are part of national body, Te Whānau Tupu Ngātahi O Aotearoa – Playcentre Aotearoa, they cannot apply to COGS at all as it is only for small organisations. We do note that technically there are a handful of incorporated centres that can apply as they are regarded as separate legal entities. Given that they are also part of the national Playcentre group they are unlikely to be successful in securing COGS grants.
Please note if you have an existing COG grant from previous rounds:

  • Existing COGS grant recipients are advised that they will need to manage and account for their grants and submit the Results Reports as required in accordance with the terms of the Grant Agreements.
  • Existing COGS grant recipients must guarantee that the programmes/activities will continue in the region in which the original requests were made and where the grant funding was approved.
  • Existing COGS grant recipients are required to continue to submit their Results Reports for existing grants, (including multi-year grants), to their local Lottery Community funder – as they have previously done

Lottery National Community Grants: In place of the individual COGS grants that centres and associations previously applied for, Playcentre Aotearoa have negotiated with the Department of Internal Affairs to apply for grants on behalf of Centres at a national level. As centres are part of a national body, they cannot apply to Lottery Community committees at the national or regional level and need to apply through the NZPF.

Playcentre Aotearoa Grant Application Process: The Playcentre Website now has an online portal for grant applications to be processed and submitted to the Lottery National Community Grants scheme on behalf of centres. The portal is open now and can be accessed here and we encourage applicants to complete the process this term.

Thank you for your time in reading this update and for all you do for Playcentre Aotearoa. It is valued and we do appreciate that you have a choice and that you choose Playcentre.

Ka kite anō au i a koutou.


Sean McKinley



Note: For documents relating to the amalgamation process please click here.