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Our Philosophy

Ko te ahurei o te tamaiti aroha o tatou mahi


“Let the uniqueness of the child guide our work.”

We will surround all tamariki with aroha, accepting and embracing tōna wairua. We will nurture each tamaiti, their āhua, mana and mauri to bring forth their potential with respect and freedom.







Caring & Supporting



Belonging & Connection



Independence & Autonomy


MŌHIOTANGA – Knowledge

  • Tuakana-Teina is valued, with the more expert tuakana helping and guiding the less expert teina to learn.

  • Within Atawhai, we are a community of learners who learn from and share knowledge with one another (kaiako and whānau included).

  • We understand that each tamaiti has prior knowledge and experiences that they bring with them.

  • We believe tamariki are capable of constructing their own learning and we empower them to do this.

  • We value tangata whenuatanga – place based, socio-cultural awareness and knowledge of the whenua of Te Arawa.

  • Tamariki have the opportunity to learn with and alongside others.



KAITIAKITANGA – Guardianship

  • We respect each other – our tamariki learn this from our interactions.

  • We affirm and celebrate the culture, value and beliefs of all tamariki.

  • Kaiako uphold te reo Māori me ngā tikanga.

  • We care about and have respectful behaviour towards one another, our resources and our environment.

  • We role model and teach respect, care and love for Papatūānuku through sustainable practices.

  • We impart knowledge and share values around protecting our natural and spiritual world through pakiwaitara, waiata and karakia.

  • Our programme and practices reflect our commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, honouring Māori as tangata whenua.



MANAAKITANGA – Caring & Supporting

  • Play is viewed as the finest form of learning and treated with the deepest of respect.

  • We teach from the heart and are attuned and responsive to the needs of all ākonga; the saying ‘with tamariki and not to tamariki’.

  • We care for tamariki holistically ensuring their mana and mauri is built upon through daily interactions; taha wairua, taha tinana, taha hinengaro, taha whānau and whenua. 

  • Kaiako are present and available for tamariki and their whānau; they are welcoming and ensure whānau feel comfortable and cared for at Atawhai.

  • Through caring for and showing tamariki kindness, compassion and mindfulness we empower tamariki to care for themselves and each other in this same way.



WHANAUNGATANGA - Belonging & Connection

  • Respectful, genuine and reciprocal relationships with tamariki and whānau are the foundation of who we are, this fosters connection and a sense of belonging.

  • We value kotahitanga and encourage our whānau to be involved and active participants in what happens at Atawhai.

  • Tamariki-kaiako-whānau relationships are strengthened through whānau grouping for assessing and planning.

  • Over time, tamariki become familiar with the daily rhythms, rituals and routines at Atawhai. 

  • Our predictable and familiar surroundings enable tamariki to feel safe and secure.

  • Tamariki and whānau have the time and opportunity to settle into at Atawhai at their own pace.

  • Whānau aspirations are respected, supported and valued.

  • Kaiako strive for educationally powerful partnerships to improve the learning outcomes of every tamaiti.



TINO RANGATIRATANGA - Independence & Autonomy

  • Tamariki are empowered and experience ample opportunities to practice and refine self-help skills.

  • Tamariki are endowed with time, space and resources to explore their own ideas, working theories and interests which enhances their learning and development.

  • Kaiako foster independence, resilience and responsibility by encouraging tamariki to view themselves as capable, competent and confident beings; tamariki are leaders at Atawhai

  • Kaiako believe tamariki have the right to determine their own destiny and they support whānau to nurture this alongside themselves and their tamaiti.

  • Kaiako implement strategies that support tamariki to calm their physical and emotional being, fostering self-regulation.

Our Mission: About

Our Curriculum

Atawhai Childcare, uses the following four approaches to teaching and learning to ensure that children learn through play. The centre curriculum is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to learning and provides the foundation of the centre curriculum and this is broken up into four areas of practice.

The Reggio Emilia Approach is an innovative and inspiring approach to early childhood education which values the child as strong, capableand resilient; rich with wonder and knowledge. Every child brings with them deep curiosity and potential and this innate curiosity drives their interest to understand their world and their place within it.

  • Children form an understanding of themselves and their place in the world through their interactions with others

There is a strong focus on social collaboration, working in groups, where each child is an equal participant, having their thoughts and questions valued. The adult is not the giver of knowledge. Children search out the knowledge through their own investigations.

Children are provided resources and opportunities to explore their environment and learn about their local area, Hapu, Iwi through the use of pakiwaitara (stories). These stories provide children with a sense of belonging, a rich respect for language and nurtures their links to their community, whanau and wider world.

  • Children are capable of constructing their own learning

They are driven by their interests to understand and know more. The centre environment extends the child’s interest at their own pace and does not rush any milestones. This approach allows for children to grow mind, body and soul in their own time.

  • Children are communicators

Communication is a process, a way of discovering things, asking questions, using language as play. Playing with sounds and rhythm and rhyme; delighting in the process of communicating.

Children are encouraged to use language to investigate and explore, to reflect on their experiences. They are listened to with respect, believing that their questions and observations are an opportunity to learn and search together. It is a process; a continual process. A collaborative process. Rather than the child asking a question and the adult offering the answers, the search is undertaken together.

  • The environment is the third teacher

The environment is recognised for its potential to inspire children. An environment filled with natural light, order and beauty. Open spacesfree from clutter, where every material is considered for its purpose, every corner is ever-evolving to encourage children to delve deeper and deeper into their interests.

The space encourages collaboration, communication and exploration. The space respects children as capable by providing them with authentic materials & tools. The space is cared for by the children and the adults.

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