What Does Te Whariki Mean?

Te Whariki Woven Mat. What does Te Whariki mean?
Te Whariki Woven Mat. What does Te Whariki mean?

Te Whāriki means a woven mat, that symbolises new life and growth. It views the child as competent and confident learners, who are strong in their identity, language, and culture.

The bicultural framework is inclusive of all cultures and their shared future together. The curriculum empowers children to learn by engaging in meaningful interactions with people, places, and things. It recognises the importance of health and wellbeing, equitable access to learning, and recognition of their language, culture, and identity. All aspects of a child’s learning journey is interconnected and woven together.

Te Whāriki Goals & Strands For Learning

Te Whariki. Te Whariki wellbeing strand and goals.
Te Whariki. Te Whariki belonging strand and goals.
Te Whariki. Te Whariki contribution strand and goals.
Te Whariki. Te Whariki communication strand and goals.
Te Whariki. Te Whariki exploration strand and goals.

How Does Te Whāriki Work In Daily Practice?

  • Wellbeing: Children have opportunities to develop resilience, self-regulate their emotions, responsibility for themselves, respect for others, confidence in their self-help and self-care skills, and knowledge of how to keep themselves safe and healthy.
  • Belonging: Children know they belong and have a sense of connection to others and the environment. Children have the opportunity to learn to clean, fix, and garden, able to help prepare food, share news about their home life, and teachers provide strategies to promote positive behaviour.
  • Contribution: Children learn with and alongside others. Opportunities for children to develop their own interests, teachers listening and supporting the implementation of ideas, and inclusive of all children.
  • Communication: Children are strong and effective communicators. Opportunities for music and movement, development of oral and sign language, and expressive through arts and crafts,
  • Exploration: Children are critical thinkers, problem solvers and explorers. They have confidence in exploring, curiosity about the world, and control of their bodies – motor development.

An Example Of Te Whāriki In A Learning Story

Te Whariki used in a learning story. Example of Te Whariki in a learning story. What is Te Whariki? Playing with Clay. Learning Story example.

Naturally, Te Whāriki is woven into a learning story. In the ‘Clay’ story, the young girl has chosen to play and learn at the clay table. She is developing friendships, experimenting with the clay and its textures, and most importantly having fun!

The clay is open-ended and not a closed learning experience/activity. A closed experience has a predetermined outcome often set by an adult. Therefore, that is not in the spirit of teaching early childhood in New Zealand.

In addition, the young girl is being creative and imaginative, all attributes that we need later on in life. If we weren’t able to think for ourselves we may never have the technology we have today. Every child at that table was making something unique and different.

It can often be hard to think how can a child learn from various experiences/activities. As a result, when I first started out as a teacher I would always think if mathematics, language, science, or physical development was not obviously seen it cannot have been learning. This came about because that is how I was taught throughout my schooling years. Almost everything I did in school had a predetermined outcome set by an adult. For instance, “today we are painting butterflies”. What if I didn’t want to paint butterflies? And if you weren’t seen painting a butterfly you got punished. Since studying early childhood my view on learning has shifted.


To sum it all up, Te Whāriki is an open-ended curriculum that can be interpreted and linked to all aspects of a child’s learning. Each child is on their own learning journey and as teachers/adults we are there to support them as they learn and grow.

Categories: Teaching Resources

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