New Zealand Kindergartens (NZK) is a Peak Body that partners with local Kindergarten Associations throughout Aotearoa New Zealand. It promotes the voice of member
Associations in relation to early childhood education policy, provision, pedagogy,workforce, education system-wide transformation, and contemporary leadership and governance. It enables local Kindergarten Associations to thrive through the provision of advice, guidance, support, and training and development.

Our modern entity is steeped in the history and fabric of early childhood education within New Zealand. Our founding organisation, the New Zealand Free Kindergarten Union (the Union), began its work in 1912/13. Predominantly focused on Kindergarten training, the Union also contributed to the evolution of policy, and negotiated with successive governments about funding.

The disruption caused by World War 1, meant that the Union was not legally constituted until 1926. Its role was to co-ordinate the work of the five original Free Kindergarten Associations: Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Auckland and Invercargill. In 1939, the Union was officially recognised by government as representing the views of its members about preschool policy.

Post 1946, there was rapid expansion of the Kindergarten Movement. The Union was pivotal in improving the standards of programmes, buildings, equipment, staffing
and qualifications. These foundations culminated in 75 Associations operating 384 Kindergartens affiliated to the Union by 1975.

The New Zealand Free Kindergarten Union changed its name to New Zealand Free Kindergarten Associations Inc in 1994, because of discomfort of the word “Union” and, in 2004, the name was changed to New Zealand Kindergartens Incorporated – Te Pūtahi Kura Puhou o Aotearoa.

A Proud History – A Bright Future

Click here to discover our wonderful kindergarten history on the kindergarten heritage website.

Growing a kindergarten movement in Aotearoa New Zealand: Its people, purposes and politics

Helen May and Kerry Bethell, 2017