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Early Childhood TeacherAlternative titles

Kaiako Kōhungahunga

This job is sometimes referred to as:

Kōhanga Reo Kaiako
Kindergarten Teacher
Montessori Teacher

Early childhood teachers educate and care for young children in early childhood education services such as kindergartens, kōhanga reo or education and care centres. Kōhanga reo kaiako also help children learn te reo Māori and tikanga Māori (culture and customs).

Contact us

Call us on 0800 222 733

Entry requirements

To become a qualified early childhood teacher you need one of the following:

  • Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education)
  • Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Early Childhood Education)
  • Diploma of Teaching (Early Childhood Education).

You also need to be registered with the New Zealand Teachers Council.

To become a qualified kōhanga reo kaiako, you need:

  • a Tino Rangatiratanga Whakapakari Tohu (kōhanga reo teaching qualification)
  • a Bachelor of Education (Whakaako) Early Childhood Education Whāriki Papatipu from Victoria University in Wellington.

To enter the Tino Rangatiratanga Whakapakari Tohu, you need the National Certificate in Reo Māori (Level 4) or equivalent. The Bachelor of Education qualification is the only kōhanga reo teaching qualification that leads to registration by the New Zealand Teachers Council.

Scholarships can help you get training for the job

The Ministry of Education offers a number of scholarships for people to train as early childhood teachers.

Secondary education

A tertiary entrance qualification is needed to enter university and teacher training. However, some diploma programmes have slightly lower entry requirements.

Additional requirements for specialist roles:

Special Education Teacher

Following two years of teaching to gain full teacher registration, and preferably further experience teaching pre-school children, you need to complete a graduate or postgraduate qualification in specialist teaching, specialising in early intervention.

Personal requirements

Early childhood teachers need to be:

  • good at communicating and relating to children and adults from a range of cultures
  • good at planning and organising
  • skilled at problem-solving, and able to make quick decisions
  • understanding and patient
  • firm but fair
  • creative, imaginative and resourceful
  • committed to the kōhanga reo kaupapa (Māori language nest concept), if working in a kōhanga reo.

Useful experience

Useful experience for early childhood teachers includes:

  • work with people with disabilities
  • school holiday programme work
  • babysitting or childcare work
  • work as a nanny
  • work with children through groups such as Brownies and Scouts.

Physical requirements

Early childhood teachers need to have a good level of fitness and health as they may have to pick up children, and join in physical activities.


First-year early childhood teachers are provisionally registered with the New Zealand Teachers Council, and issued with a practising certificate. After two years of satisfactory work as a teacher they gain full registration.

Related courses

View information on courses in the course database

Find out more about training

0800 165 225 - teachnz.admin@minedu.govt.nz - www.teachnz.govt.nz/
Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa/New Zealand Childcare Association
0800 244 532 - enrol@nzca.ac.nz - www.nzchildcare.ac.nz
Montessori Aotearoa New Zealand
0800 336 612 - eo@montessori.org.nz - www.montessori.org.nz



years of training required

Fortunate Mapuvire sorting colourful shapes on a table

You need a tertiary qualification to become a qualified early childhood teacher

Adrienne Wilkins reading a document in her office

Adrienne Wilkins organising a meeting for teachers at the early childhood centre

Updated 24 Nov 2014