The five Puna Whakatupu

Evidence was gathered, including interviews with whānau, kuia and kaumātua, during the reviews of the following Puna Whakatupu:

Te Puna Whakatupu o Apakura Te Kākano

Te Awamutu

Te Puna Whakatupu o Te Rau Ōriwa


Te Puna Whakatupu o Raroera Te Kākano


Te Puna Whakatupu o Ngā Kākano o Te Mānuka

Mangere, South Auckland

Te Puna Whakatupu o Whare Āmai


Introducing the Puna Whakatupu

Te Puna Whakatupu o Apakura Te Kākano

This image is of children walking over a bridge

Ahakoa He Iti He Pounamu
The smallest things are the most precious

Te Puna Whakatupu o Apakura Te Kākano is situated in Te Awamutu at Te Puna Matauranga. The name is derived from Apakura, a female ancestor who was the authority of the land. She is remembered as a caring, loving woman who cherished and raised many children other than her own. The word kākano symbolises the notion of children’s development and growth. It is the role of the puna to promote children’s wellbeing and development; to nurture and care for them so they grow to be strong and healthy.

Te Puna Whakatupu o Apakura Te Kākano aspires to uphold ngā hononga (relationships), prioritising tuakana teina interactions through mixed age settings. This is important as it nurtures the independence and leadership qualities of both tuakana and teina. Culture, language and identity are included in the curriculum. The learning environment is well resourced to provide children with choice and challenge. Kaimahi are passionate about holding fast to their ‘Apakuratanga’.

Kaimahi provide an environment that responds to children’s learning needs. Whānau value the education their children receive, and appreciate the strong supportive relationships between kaimahi, children and whānau. Whānau feel that the puna prepares their children well for kura. Children are happy, engaged learners.

Te Puna Whakatupu o Te Rau Ōriwa te Wānanga o Aotearoa

This image shows infants, children and elders sitting together

Toi tu te kupu, toi tu te mana, toi tu te whenua
Hold fast to the language, to the prestige, to the land

Te Puna Whakatupu o Te Rau Ōriwa is situated on the periphery of Tokoroa and provides early childhood care and education for whānau of Tokoroa. The Puna serves a strong Māori and Pacific Island community. The name Te Rau Ōriwa originates from the dove and the olive leaf which symbolise hope.

Whānau describe Te Puna Whakatupu as a whānau-based learning environment that is loving, caring, encouraging and helps foster a love of learning. Children’s culture, language and identity are affirmed. Whānau acknowledge the genuine passion kaimahi bring to their work and the way that partnerships with whānau are encouraged. Children are able to initiate new challenges and goals, following their own interests. The puna upholds Tainui tikanga and kawa. Mātauranga Māori has a strong presence across the curriculum.

Whānau see that the educational needs of their children are being met and that they are going to school as confident learners. Feedback from the local school verifies this. Whānau are constantly updated about their children’s progress, and their participation is encouraged. A whānau member stated:

I am familiar with the place and the teachers… the centre has an enjoyable atmosphere and teachers are enthusiastic… my moko loves it here and as long as he’s happy, then I’m happy.”

Whānau contribute to their child’s education by constantly communicating with the kaimahi. One whānau have four generations attending the puna. They say it’s because the centre upholds whanaungatanga, they understand manaakitanga and the wairua is lovely.

It’s their home away from home. Whānau value and acknowledge the place of culture, identity and language in their children’s lives. Children learn from a foundation of trust, respect and care.

Te Puna Whakatupu o Raroera te Puawai

This image is of an older Maori woman congratulating a child with a certificate and a hongi.

Nāku te rourou, nāu to rourou, ka ora ai te iwi
With contributions from everyone, our children will thrive

Te Puna Whakatupu o Raroera Te Puāwai is situated in Hamilton. Te Puāwai means to blossom. It is a metaphor that has been applied to express the ways in which children learn and grow. The vision statement ‘Kia rangatira te tu a ngā tamariki mokopuna’ focuses on children’s unique potential. Kaimahi uphold the kawa and tikanga of Tainui and the Kingitanga. The majority of children are Māori. The philosophy of the Te Puna Whakatupu o Raroera Te Puawai is for children to be nurtured as confident and passionate learners.

Te Puna Whakatupu o Raroera Te Puawai provides a learning environment where children and their whānau establish meaningful relationships with kaimahi and management. Kaimahi are clear about their roles and responsibilities when working with and alongside children and whānau. These relationships support children as they learn and grow in confidence as learners.

There is mātauranga Māori input and there is a clear message that ‘we’re Māori here, we can be proud of who we are. That’s what I want for my child. 

Children enjoy and focus on learning. Teaching and learning encompasses children’s interests and needs. There are many occasions where children are able to initiate and direct their own learning. Children show their individual leadership throughout the learning programme. Children’s successes are affirmed, and their confidence and mana is enhanced because of this.

Whānau appreciate the open communication between themselves and kaimahi. They feel comfortable and appreciate that their input is valued. Children with special needs are integrated successfully into the learning programme. Whānau are well informed and consulted about any changes that affect their children. Their input into aspects of the curriculum is highly valued. Kaimahi have open, trusting relationships with whānau.

My child has special education needs and she has come a long way. I have been part of everything with regard to the IEP (individual education plan)

Te Puna Whakatupu o Ngā Kākano o te Mānuka

This image shows children getting ready for a powhiri manuhiri

Whakapuputia mai o mānuka, kia kore ai e whati
Cluster the branches of the mānuka so they will not break

Te Puna Whakatupu o Ngā Kākano o te Mānuka is situated in Mangere, Auckland. Kaimahi work together as a collaborative team and build close partnerships with whānau. Children from varying cultures are acknowledged and respected.

Children are regarded as precious here at the centre

Learning and teaching is focused on children’s interests. Children have opportunities to lead their own learning. Kaimahi consider strategies to extend children’s thinking through meaningful conversations and open ended questions. Whānau affirm that children experience respectful, caring and loving relationships.

My girl is both Chinese and Māori. I am from Maniapoto… It is so good that she learns about her whakapapa here

Whānau feel that their aspirations for their children are listened to and acted upon, generating strong links from the puna to the home and from the home to the puna. The promotion of kaupapa Māori values, such as whanaungatanga and aroha by kaimahi show they are passionate about their work with children.

Children experience a learning programme where their interests are the major focus. The learning environment and resources provide a wide range of opportunities for children to explore, be creative and solve problems. This lets children participate in learning that is self directed and meaningful to them. Transitions between the baby and teina programme is based on their readiness to leave, and the process is gentle and calm. Babies have control over transitions. Children gain confidence in themselves as learners.

Te Puna Whakatupu a o Whare Āmai

 This image shows happy children learning children

Ko te Pū
Te More, Te Weu
Te Aka, Te Rea
Ko Te Waonui, Te Kune
Te Whe, Te Kore, Te Pō
Ki ngā tangata Māori
a Rangi rāua ko Papa
Ko tēnei ti timatanga o te Ao.
Ko tēnei ti timatanga o te Ao.

Te Puna Whakatupu o Te Whare Āmai is situated in the heart of Gisborne, in Elgin. The majority of children have whakapapa connections to the five local iwi. Many of the children attend the local kura kaupapa Māori or schools with rūmaki units. A parent who has had three children attend the puna says:

The centre prepares my children well for kura. It makes their transitions easier.

The name Whare Āmai refers to the colours of the rainbow and the aura of children. It is a metaphor symbolising the uniqueness of each child and what they bring with them. The role of the Puna Whakatupu is to nurture and uphold the child’s mana and mauri. Kaimahi ensure children are nurtured and protected. A kaimahi says:

Whānau articulate that children at the puna are well loved… this makes us happy that we are doing our job properly.

Whānau articulate that children at the puna are well loved… this makes us happy that we are doing our job properly.

Koka know our children really well… we value what they have to offer and know just how much our children love their koka

The learning environment at Te Puna Whakatupu o Te Whare Āmai highlights children’s achievement and success. What children and whānau bring with them is respected as their contribution, their koha, to others. Whānau appreciate that kaimahi genuinely care for their children, and for them. Valuing culture, language and identity through ahuatanga Māori, te reo Māori and tikanga Māori is critical to whānau who further state that “te reo Māori and tikanga Māori reflects the local iwi”. When asked how she felt about the prospect of the puna raising the level of te reo Māori in the programme, one mother said:

Te reo Māori is such a spiritual language, why wouldn’t I be happy about that? My child would benefit from learning more te reo Māori.

Whānau aspirations are that children enjoy education, are confident and able to stand as young leaders.

By coming here my child is being prepared as a lifelong learner.

Children are happy at the puna, where they are viewed as capable learners, with no boundaries to their learning.

This image shows adults and children eating kina