Nelson District Kindergarten Association

Head office location:
Number of services:
Service type:
  • Education and care service

Nelson District Kindergarten Association

1 ERO’s Judgements

A Governing Organisation Evaluation evaluates the extent to which organisational conditions support equitable and excellent outcomes for all learners in the organisation’s services. Te Ara Poutama - indicators of quality for early childhood education: what matters most is the basis for making judgements about its effectiveness. The Governing Organisation Quality Evaluation Judgement Rubric derived from the indicators, is used to inform the ERO’s judgements about this organisation’s performance. 

ERO’s judgement for Nelson District Free Kindergarten Association is as follows:

ERO’s judgement Organisational Conditions 

Assurance ReviewWhakatō 
Overall judgement 

The organisation conditions encompass Ngā Akatoro | Domains of:

  • Ngā Aronga Whai Hua | Evaluation for improvement
  • Kaihautū | Leadership fosters collaboration and improvement
  • Te Whakaruruhau | Stewardship through effective governance and management.

2 Context of the Governing Organisation

Nelson District Free Kindergarten Association (the association) is made up of 22 kindergartens across the Nelson and greater Tasman region. At the time of this evaluation 21 of the kindergartens were on a full licence, and one new kindergarten on a probationary licence. A general manager oversees operations, supported by a team including senior education advisors (SEA), a property manager, finance, and human resource teams, a Whānau Awhi team and administration support.

Since ERO’s previous evaluations there have been a number of personnel and governance changes. In 2021 the association identified that for long term sustainability it would participate in a trial programme to be governed by New Zealand Kindergartens (NZK). The outcome of this trial has resulted in a decision to come under full governance of NZK whilst still maintaining local autonomy.

Findings from ERO’s evaluation at the governance and organisational level included evaluating the extent to which Nelson District Free Kindergarten Association’s strategic intentions, quality improvement systems, processes and practices support the provision of a quality curriculum at individual service level.

3 Summary of findings

Managers and leaders work well together to enact the organisation’s vision, values and priorities. The leadership team have adopted practices that show a deeper commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi as being foundational to its operations.

Conditions supporting the organisation to build an effective culture include: 

  • strategic appointments of key personnel to better support delivery of operational matters such as compliance, property and human resources
  • effective interprofessional agency connections to support the health, wellbeing and learning of children and whānau
  • opportunities for kaiako to liaise and network within the association
  • a focus on the sustainability and growth of the association.

Improvement strategies that the organisation has in place include: 

  • a coherent approach to bi-cultural initiatives that is building cultural competence at all levels of the association 
  • a well-established Whānau Awhi team that takes a  holistic approach to promoting wellbeing and participation 
  • shared understanding and implementation of effective teaching strategies through the ‘Incredible Years training programme’ to better support children’s learning and development 
  • a well-considered process to transition to NZK governance to support the ongoing sustainability of the association.

Senior education advisors recognise that in order to be more effective they need to continue to examine their role to support kindergarten teams to become more autonomous and self-managing. Some frameworks for making accurate judgements about quality and effectiveness of education across the organisation are yet to be fully developed and implemented. Refining the guidelines for curriculum design and a more scaffolded approach for using the guiding curriculum frameworks is needed. 

A range of quality improvement systems, processes and practices are established and contribute to improvements within the association. These include:

  • teaching as inquiry
  • professional growth cycles aligned to strategic initiatives that improve teachers practice
  • research and improvement focused developments.

An established process for review and development is in place. Building a shared understanding of effective internal evaluation is needed to better know what is working or not for identified individuals and groups of children. This increased focus on evaluation should then be reflected through guiding documents. 

Leaders and managers are developing systems for better monitoring and reporting on how well the association and its kindergartens are meeting regulatory and professional requirements and the impact on outcomes for children in relation to strategic intentions.

4 Summary of findings from visits to services

ERO visited a sample of nine kindergartens to verify what Nelson District Free Kindergarten Association knows about the quality of each of the services’ learning conditions and to what extent the organisational conditions support service improvement. ERO selected the service sample in consultation with the governing organisation.

Conditions that promote positive outcomes for children include:

  • inclusive practices and individualised planning for children who have additional learning needs, developed collaboratively with whānau and external agencies
  • well-maintained, inclusive, well resourced, and engaging learning environments
  • targeted approaches to implementing a bi-cultural curriculum.

Teaching strategies that support learners include:

  • a deliberate focus on supporting Māori initiatives that facilitate deeper engagement with whānau and iwi Māori to influence local curriculum provision 
  • Te reo Māori and tikanga Māori are valued and are increasingly an integral part of teaching and learning
  • effective and consistently implemented strategies that foster children’s developing social competence and emotional resilience.

Most services are in the early stages of considering how to reflect Pacific values and knowledge within their curriculum, and teaching practices.

5 Improvement actions

Prior to the next ERO evaluation Nelson District Free Kindergarten Association will progress the following actions through its Quality Improvement Planning. This includes to:

  • continue to review and refine the SEA role with the aim of growing kindergarten leadership 
  • shape and support the expectations for kindergartens to design, implement and evaluate their curriculum
  • implement comprehensive monitoring and reporting to better understand how well the association and its kindergartens are meeting regulatory and professional requirements relating to curriculum, outcomes for different groups of children, health, and safety, and human resources
  • continue to evolve internal evaluation processes and practices and generate a strategic view of what is working or not and for whom.

6 Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

As part of this review, a representative of Nelson District Free Kindergarten Association completed an ERO Governing Organisation Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. In these documents they stated that the organisation has the systems, processes, and practices to be assured that service providers for licensed services within the organisation are meeting legal requirements related to:

  • curriculum
  • premises and facilities
  • health and safety practices
  • governance, management, and administration.

The licensed service provider/s of the sampled services listed at the end of this report also completed an ERO Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist for their service. In these documents they attested that they have taken all reasonable steps to meet legal requirements, including those detailed in Ministry of Education Circulars and other documents, related to these areas. 

All early childhood services are required to promote children's health and safety and to regularly review their compliance with legal requirements.

7 Actions for Compliance 

During its visits to sample services ERO identified the following non-compliances:

Profile number
Name of service
Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Services, 2008
Non-compliance identified during this review
Satisfactorily addressed
65608 Motueka Kindergarten HS17 – A record of excursions that includes assessment and management of risk. Yes
65191 Waverley Street Kindergarten HS17 - A record of excursions that includes the time and date of the excursion. Yes
65140 Hira Rural Kindergarten 

HS17 - A record of excursions that includes assessment and management of risk.  


HS27 – A record of illnesses that occur at the service. 


8 Next ERO Review

The next ERO review is likely to be in 14-18 months.

ERO will visit a different sample of services at that time. 

Patricia Davey
Director of Early Childhood Education (ECE)

29 November 2023 

9 About the Governing Organisation 

Service types Kindergartens
Total number of licensed services22
Total number of children licensed for across all services 951 including 55 under two years old
Total number of children enrolled across all services 1008
Ethnic composition (%)Māori 18%; NZ European/Pākehā 61%; Pacific heritage 3%; Other ethnic groups 18% 
Number of full-time equivalent teachersQualified118
Review team on siteJuly/August 2023
Date of this report29 November 2023
Most recent ERO report(s)No previous Governing Organisation Evaluation reports. 

10 List of sampled services

All sampled services are on a full licence.

Services sampled in this evaluation:

Profile Number 
Name of service 
Service Type
5397 Birchwood Kindergarten  Kindergarten 
5398 Greenwood Kindergarten  Kindergarten 
65140 Hira Rural Kindergarten  Kindergarten 
65608 Motueka Kindergarten  Kindergarten 
5402 Nayland Kindergarten  Kindergarten 
65025 Pinegrove Kindergarten  Kindergarten 
5405 Richmond Kindergarten  Kindergarten 
5400 Waimea Kindergarten  Kindergarten 
65191 Waverley Street Kindergarten  Kindergarten