Early Learning Strategic Plan terms of reference announced

Education Minister Chris Hipkins today released the terms of reference for the Early Learning Strategic Plan, which aims to give all children genuine opportunities for high quality early learning.

“Quality early learning provides children with a strong foundation for their future learning that can influence the rest of their lives.  It’s also hugely important to working parents, Chris Hipkins says.

“There is a strong case for having a strategic plan to set out a systematic and stepped approach to continuing to develop and strengthen the early learning sector, to meet the needs of children and their families and whānau.

“To inform the development of the 10 Year Strategic Plan, I have established an independent Ministerial Advisory Group (MAG), with five members from diverse backgrounds and with relevant expertise, and a Reference Group made up of sector representatives and academic experts.

“The two groups will develop the strategic plan alongside the Ministry of Education and public consultation on the draft strategy is expected to begin in September 2018. Key themes will be raising quality, improving equity and the role of choice.

“The development process will take into account the Government’s stated objectives for early learning, including revisiting decisions by the previous Government that have undermined the shift towards a more qualified workforce. Over time, this Government’s aim is to achieve 100% qualified teachers in all centre-based teacher-led early learning services and to improve group size and teacher: child ratios for infants and toddlers.

“I’m also releasing the terms of reference for the Government’s review of home-based ECE. This review will take place alongside the development of the Early Learning Strategic Plan, with both being closely aligned.

“Home-based ECE is the most rapidly growing ECE service type. The number of home-based providers has grown by 158% since the early 2000s. We know benefits of early childhood education are conditional on quality. That’s why the review will make sure the right policy settings are in place to support high-quality ECE for all children at home-based services,” Chris Hipkins says.

The Ministry of Education will develop a discussion document on home-based ECE, with public consultation expected to start in July 2018. 

The Early Learning Strategic Plan Terms of Reference can be found here and Review of Home-based Care Terms of Reference can be found here.

Ministerial Advisory Group members

Professor Carmen Dalli (Chair)


School of Education,

Victoria University of Wellington


Carmen has a BA (Hons) from the University of Malta, a MEd from the University of Bristol and a PhD from Victoria University of Wellington. Carmen is Honorary Consul for Malta in Wellington.

Her research spans early childhood policy studies, professionalism in the early years, and under-three year olds in early childhood settings. She has a strong interest in children’s transitions from home to their first early childhood setting and the nature of learning in the first years.

Carmen was recently the principal investigator for the Quality early childhood education for under-two-year-olds report produced for the Minister of Education. Her research in early learning policy and practice has been widely published in New Zealand and internationally.

Professor Meihana Durie


Māori Studies unit, Te Pūtahi-ā-Toi (School of Māori Art, Knowledge and Education), Massey University.

Meihana is the head of Massey University’s Te Pūtahi-a-Toi (School of Māori Knowledge). He is a previous recipient of the Health Research Council of New Zealand Hohua Tutengaehe Postdoctoral Fellowship and received the Sir Peter Snell Doctoral Scholarship in Public Health and Exercise Science in 2008.

He helped establish Ngā Purapura, a development committed to the empowerment of whānau through education in health, exercise, sport and the growth and creation of new Māori bodies of knowledge.

Dr Alex Gunn


Associate Dean, Teacher Education

University of Otago

Alex has taught in urban and rural not-for-profit and community-based education and care settings for children aged between birth and school-age.

She has worked in general education, initial teacher education and post-graduate education studies at the University of Canterbury and the University of Otago.

Alex’s research interests include early childhood education, inclusive education and social justice, and educational assessment and teacher education.

Professor Stuart McNaughton


Chief Science Advisor, Ministry of Education


Professor of Education and Director of the Woolf Fisher Research Centre at the University of Auckland

Stuart research areas are literacy and language development, the design of effective education for culturally and linguistically diverse populations, and cultural processes in development. He has published extensively of these topics and was awarded the Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to education in New Zealand. 

As a Director of the Woolf Fisher Research Centre, Stuart leads a research team in studies of effective educational interventions for schooling success with a focus on Māori and Pasifika children. He is a member of the Literacy Research Panel of the International Literacy Association and in 2014 was inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame.

Dr Tanya Wendt Samu


Senior Lecturer,

Pasifika education 

University of Auckland

Tanya has over twenty years’ experience in under-graduate and graduate teaching, including course development and coordination.

Tanya has experience in the tertiary sector focused on teacher education and collaborative research projects in Pasifika education – beginning with the former School of Education of the University of Auckland (1996-2000; 2002-2003), and then with the former Auckland College of Education (2004).

Tanya has contributed to international curriculum development and teacher capacity building education projects in Samoa, Tonga, Kyrgyzstan and Nauru.


Reference Group members

The Reference Group membership will be drawn from existing early learning representative groups: the Early Childhood Advisory Committee (ECAC) and the ECE Policy Research Forum.

The following members of the Early Childhood Advisory Committee and ECE Research Policy Forum have been invited to join the Reference Group:

Thelma Chapman

Christian Early Childhood Education Association of Aotearoa

Hellen Puhipuhi

Pasifika Advisory Group

Cathy Wilson

Montessori Aotearoa of NZ (MANZ)

Charmaine Thomson

NZEI Te Riu Roa

Sandie Burn

NZEI Te Riu Roa

Marianne Kayes

Hospital Play Specialists

Karen Affleck

The Federation of Rudolf Steiner Waldorf Schools in New Zealand

Kathy Wolfe

Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand

Susan Bailey

New Zealand Playcentre Federation

Kararaina Cribb

Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust

Peter Reynolds

Early Childhood Council

Karen Shields

Early Childhood Leadership Group

Susan Foster-Cohen

Early Intervention Association of  Aotearoa New Zealand (EIAANZ)

Clare Wells

NZ Kindergartens Inc

Susan Phua

New Zealand Home-based
Early Childhood Education Association

Keith Newton

Barnardos New Zealand

Raewyn Overton-Stuart

Home Early Learning Organisation (HELO)

Helen McConnell

Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu

Hikitia Ropata

Education Council

Professor Margaret Carr

University of Waikato

Professor Helen May

University of Otago

Dr Anne Meade


Dr Linda Mitchell

University of Waikato

Dr Lesley Rameka

University of Waikato

Professor Claire McLachlan

University of Waikato