Tēnā koutou katoa

As we begin the final term of the year Playcentre Aotearoa is as busy as ever and I especially want to acknowledge those who have contributed feedback to the work we are undertaking with the Ministry of Education and our own scheduled review of the Playcentre Aotearoa operational structure. Many great suggestions have come through and we are busily working through them all to ensure that the views of our members and staff are taken into account as we make the necessary changes to ensure Playcentre can continue to support families growing together.

Working with the Ministry of Education

Essential to the success of Playcentre Aotearoa is the work we are doing with the Ministry of Education on our funding, education and compliance as a provider of early childhood education. As an organisation we all know the value of the work that we do and we spend a lot of time telling ourselves and other Playcentre members how valuable Playcentre is. This is great for our own sense of worth but my job is to convince the Ministry and government funders, who sit outside of Playcentre, of the value of what we do.

To break it down in simple terms we have built a structure that does support families growing together but we are trying to pay for this by utilising a subsidy towards early childhood education based on individual attendance by tamariki at our Centres. As the individual attendance figures decline we receive less, both at a Centre and national level, but the overheads required to maintain our 407 licensed Playcentres and associated Playgroups remain. Currently our costs do not cover the expenditure.

We know historically that we have been underfunded. We provide support to whānau based on a funding model that only recognises the individual child participating in what is believed to be a volunteer led early childhood education centre. Our reality is that we now compete in the early childhood education environment with multiple providers and to meet the demands of that sector we are forced to operate in an entirely different way to how Playcentre has in the past.

I am aware of the comments that Playcentre is changing and this is true. It is not change for change’s sake nor is it about removing the voice of the members or becoming a more corporate structure. It is about ensuring the long-term viability of Playcentre. Changes to our operating requirements have meant we have had to change our education programme at the same time as restructure our entire organisation to meet the demands of a changing population. Think trying to rebuild a plane – mid-flight.

We should be proud of what we have achieved in what are some challenging circumstances and I hope we will look back on this as a time when Playcentre made changes for the good of the organisation for the right reason – Whānau tupu ngātahi – families growing together.

We are working with the Ministry of Education on the things we do well but are currently challenging for our Centres. The issues that we are discussing include:

  • We are currently transitioning from the previous education programme (The Playcentre Diploma in Early Childhood and Adult Education) to a new Nationally recognised NZQA qualification (NZ Certificate in Early Childhood Education).

    We may just need a bit more time to do this and to better structure how we provide the education programme. The feedback we are getting is that the new programme is really well crafted and is of value. Let’s celebrate that for what it is and we will work with the Ministry of Education so that they understand that for Playcentre to do this well we need to be recognised for the different environment in which we operate. The Ministry are working with us to ensure that we are successful in our delivery and that the timeframes are achievable.

    We are also looking at reviewing what our requirements are for supervising sessions based on our ratios. We expect that if we can review these and ensure that we are providing quality sessions we will be able to reduce the stress some Centres are facing in meeting the person responsible requirements to keep their Centres open.

  • We are one of the largest individual providers of early childhood education services and support to families.

    Our centres are community hubs both in rural and urban areas, but many have struggled to maintain their buildings and surrounds to the expected level as the organisation has been underfunded for many years. We are working with the Ministry on specific funding for our rural and struggling Centres so they are not so reliant on our urban and better attended Centres. Equity is possible only if we are realistically funded. We are also looking at how we can be funded to undertake an assessment of all our Centres so that we can implement a proper property maintenance plan.


  • We provide whānau led early childhood education services with better ratios than many other providers and our sessions have great outcomes for our tamariki.

    To do this many of our Centres are now reliant on at least one paid person to fulfil the person responsible requirements set by the Ministry. To maintain our current sessions and work to expand sessions where they are needed we will need to continue to support our session delivery in this way.

    Our aim is to build our own workforce through the delivery of our new education programme and to do this we need appropriate time and funding. The information we are gathering from our Regions and Centres is being shared with the Ministry as we work together to find the best way to manage and fund this process.


As mentioned in previous updates I am currently working with the Trustee Board on how we manage the support for Playgroups under the new constitution and in the current financial setting. Our process with Playgroups is to work with them in a way that recognises our constitutional obligations and ensures that playgroups are also contributing to the organisation. I have copied item two of our constitution below as I think that it is important that we recognise the basis on which we receive the funding that we do and how we operate as a charitable service.


    • The objects of Playcentre Aotearoa are charitable and will be the advancement of education within Aotearoa New Zealand and shall be to:
      • promote and encourage the development of Playcentre activities throughout Aotearoa New Zealand;
      • support learning through play;
      • foster adult education and bicultural development;
      • offer adult education and courses that enhance the understanding of the education and care of young children
      • ensure adult participation and responsibility in the cooperative running of Playcentres;
      • embody Te Tiriti o Waitangi based partnership within Playcentre Aotearoa;
      • assist families to provide quality play experiences for all children in an inclusive environment which acknowledges and incorporates the dual heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand;
      • organise the training, approval and employment of suitable persons to support play sessions;
      • nurture sustainable services and practices at all levels of Playcentre Aotearoa;
      • raise public awareness of Playcentres;
      • assist and foster innovation and research in the fields of early childhood education, adult education and young children; and
      • generally do each and every act necessary and proper to achieve the objects of Playcentre Aotearoa.


We are currently drafting a document that outlines the process for how Playgroups operate within the Playcentre Aotearoa organisation and that document is essentially about supporting Playgroups to develop and grow into licensed Playcentres, as that is the basis of what Playcentre Aotearoa is as set out in the constitution.

In order to support Playgroups to participate in the context of the Playcentre Philosophy we will support Playgroups to grow through education and to do this we need to put in place a plan. At this stage we are looking to develop a 12 month agreement with Playgroups to support them to grow in order that they become self-funding Playcentres, contributing to the organisation as a whole.

These agreements recognise that for some Playgroups this will be challenging and we might have to roll over a number of agreements to ensure that a Playgroup is supported through the transition and that we “nurture sustainable services and practices at all levels of Playcentre Aotearoa.”

I am aware that there is a view from some that we are looking to exclude Playgroups from Playcentre Aotearoa and this is far from the truth. If a Playgroup actively wants to grow and develop within the Playcentre philosophy then they will be supported by the other member Centres to do so.

A few Playgroups have however stated that they do not want to participate in education or training or adhere to the constitution and philosophy. When this happens then a decision has to be made on whether Playcentre Aotearoa can legally and ethically continue to subsidise the continuation of those Playgroups. It is at this point that we need to identify the best use of resources for the organisation and to look at the future of the centre. The constitution provides for this by allowing Playcentre Aotearoa to investigate whether there is community interest/support in reforming the Playcentre by others who are willing to work within the constitution and within the context of the Playcentre philosophy.

As noted at the beginning of my update the overheads required to maintain our 407 licensed Playcentres and associated Playgroups remain and currently our income do not cover the expenditure. We can and must be able to afford to invest in Playgroups that have a plan to develop and grow but we are not in a position financially to subsidise any group unwilling to do this.

Lotteries Funding

As previously noted we received applications from 275 Centres for Lotteries funding as a result of the Department of Internal Affairs changing the criteria for Community Organisation Grant Scheme funding. The total requested by Centres was $ $1,457,773.51

We have been advised that a total of $150,000.00 has been allocated to Centres which is disappointing at the very least. We are waiting on the release of these funds which has been held up as a result of reports for previous funding for Centres having not been completed. We have followed up on the outstanding reports and once these have been completed for the Centres our funding will be released to us.

We are deeply concerned that the Department of Internal Affairs has not managed this process well and have noted our concerns and our intention to follow this up. We will be resubmitting applications for Centre funding before the close of the second funding round in early December 2019. Once the current allocation is released, we shall divide this amongst Centres and forward to them as soon as possible.

As noted above we are currently requesting information on the allocation process and are investigating our options in relation to future grant applications and will advise Centres of options once this information is available.


Ka kite anō au i a koutou.

Sean McKinley