Kindergarten Profile

  • 202,772 children attend an ECE service, 156,442 (80%) attending a centre-based, teacher-led service (education and care or kindergarten service).
  • Nationwide, kindergarten is 14% of all licensed ECE services, and has 14.3% of all enrolments (29,787 children).
  • There are 658 kindergartens in New Zealand, administered by 29 regional kindergarten associations.
  • Kindergarten represents 15% of ECE services, catering for one quarter (25%) of all 4-year-olds, and 19% of 3-year-olds.
  • Almost three quarters (74%) of kindergartens are in low and middle-income areas.
  • In communities with a Ministry of Health decile rating of 1, which represents the most deprived communities, 7% of enrolments are in kindergarten.
  • The average weekly hours of attendance in kindergarten is 16.7 hours.
  • After Ngā Kohanga Reo and Correspondence School, kindergarten has the highest percentage of Māori children enrolled in the service (22%), and kindergarten has the highest percentage of Pasifika children enrolled in the service alongside education and care services (8%).
  • Among all Māori children enrolled in ECE, 15% attend kindergarten.
  • Among all Pasifika children enrolled in ECE, 13% attend kindergarten.

Ministry of Education, Education Counts – as at May 2018


Kindergarten is a leader among early childhood education (ECE) services, developing new initiatives and innovations to enhance teaching and learning and strengthen relationships with whānau and communities. Here are some examples:

  • Most kindergartens operate a school-day with many offering children to attend for the full 6 hours or for part of the day or part of the week.
  • Bilingual kindergartens, including those operated by the Northland and Napier Kindergarten Associations , offer services in te reo Māori and English.
  • Kindergartens are environmentally focused and many are part of the national Enviroschools Early Years programme.
  • In Porirua, Toru Fetū Kindergarten, promotes and integrates three Pasifika cultures and languages – Tuvalu, Niue, and Cook Island – at one centre. It is the first purpose built Pasifika kindergarten in New Zealand.
  • He Whānau Manaaki (Wellington), Ruahine, Tauranga and Geraldine Kindergarten Associations offer home-based services where home-educators are trained and supported by a qualified, registered teacher. Home-based services cater for small groups of infants, toddlers and young children and nurture the languages and cultures of families in the home environment.
  • Three kindergarten associations operate teen parent units. Other associations provide parent support and development programmes alongside traditional kindergarten services, including those under the umbrella of the Southland Kindergarten Association.
  • Taitoko Kindergarten operates as a community hub, giving families access to other community agencies such as public health nurses and family support workers. A number of other kindergartens have whānau rooms where they host playgroups, offer workshops, and provide access to services and activities for parents and whānau.
  • Many kindergarten associations including Northland, Nelson, Ruahine, Tauranga and He Whānau Manaaki employ Māori advisors, Pou Whakarewa Tikanga Māori or kaimahi, “to ensure provision of programmes that Māori whānau value with regard to cultural priorities”.
  • He Whānau Manaaki Kindergarten Association operates the Y-Men Project, a programme for young men who are unemployed and not in training of any kind. The men spend six months undertaking supported placements in Wellington area kindergartens. They develop skills, confidence and focus during the programme and most have gone on to enroll in training or education programmes upon completion of the project.
  • Kindergartens offer a number of successful parent education programmes supported by the Ministry of Social Development the Incredible Years programme.
  • In conjunction with the local District Health Board, the Nelson association provides a hospital-based kindergarten programme He Whare Maanaki.
  • Several associations, including Southland, Westport, Kidsfirst, Nelson and He Whānau Manaaki, provide long day services in some communities, including services for children under two years old.
  • The Southland Kindergarten Association operates the Nature Discovery Programme where teaching and learning takes place outdoors in the natural environment.