The AGM Edition 2023

What a great night the AGM was. It’s such a special event each year, and always leaves me feeling proud of the incredible mahi being done every day across the Kidsfirst network as we look back on the year that has been and celebrate those who exemplify Kidsfirst’s values.

The awards were a little different this year, as we await the introduction of the new Uara framework. Thank you to everyone who gave feedback in the recent survey – we all need to own these values, and they will be with us for some time to come. I can’t wait to see the next steps in their development.

Congratulations to those teaching teams who were recognised at this year’s awards – your own sense of pride was palpable on the night, and I am sure your achievements will mean a great deal to kindergarten whānau, too.

While these kindergartens were in the spotlight, I know that a huge amount of hard work went on during the 2022 year across the network – it was a tough one, and it’s a relief to have it officially behind us now.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everybody, kindergarten and head office teams alike, for their contribution to our collective mahi in 2022 and as we enter the second half of 2023. Making a difference to the lives of whānau, tamariki and communities truly is a team effort, and it’s one that goes on all year round, whether it is in the spotlight or not.

And once again, we are incredibly grateful to all of our sponsors. These organisations work with us throughout the year, and at awards time they generously donate amazing prizes, to make our awards even more special.

Here’s to the rest of a great year!
Mā te tini, mā mano, ka rapa te whai – by many, by thousands, the work will be accomplished.


This year’s Values Awards recognised the teaching teams that lived and breathed the Kidsfirst values in 2022. This year, the Professional Leaders nominated the winning kindergartens, as we work towards the implementation of the new Uara framework, which will form the basis of the awards for 2024.

WHĀNAU: Embracing Whānau and Connection


The Lady May teaching team have long valued relationships with whānau and their community, and often invite families to contribute to the kindergarten programme in creative ways, especially those that enrich the space with a strong sense of te ao Māori. In 2021 and 2022, this work gained further momentum in partnership with tamariki, whānau, hapū, and the Māori community.

In the initiative recognised in this year’s awards, whānau were invited to create koru art designs that reflected the values they saw, heard, and felt each day at kindergarten. These were painted onto a large river rock, which tamariki touched to embed their mauri. New tamariki and whānau are now encouraged to do the same to feel a sense of ūkaipōtanga, and to add their own mauri to this special piece.

Building on this mahi, the team commissioned a whare for their Big Backyard with intimate involvement from whānau and tamariki at every stage of the process. A skilled whānau member carved a special piece that speaks to cultural locatedness, and explained the significance of its elements at a community blessing.

As well as the whānau and community engagement outcomes, the project brought many benefits, including tamariki Māori being involved in the project and becoming increasingly able to make connections between people, places, and things in their world, te waihanga hononga.

Our thanks to Aspen Joinery for their sponsorship of this year’s Whānau award.

PROUD: Living the Tongan Culture


Culture, language and identity are important aspects of children’s lives, and a critical part of early childhood education, and they have always been core to the foundations of Kidsfirst Niu.

Over the COVID years, there was still a strong focus on Tongan language and culture, but other pressures meant attention was pulled in many other directions, too.

Recognising the need to refocus on those very critical areas saw renewed focus on bringing the threads of lea faka-Tonga (the Tongan language), and anga faka-Tonga (the Tongan culture), back to the forefront in every aspect of kindergarten life at Kidsfirst Niu. As a consequence, there has been a notable uplift in the sense of pride of all children at the kindergarten in its values, and its unique identity.

Our thanks to Modern Teaching Aids for their sponsorship of this year’s Proud award.

INSPIRING: A Bicultural Journey


Enhancing the bicultural programme, practices, and pedagogy in the kindergarten was the focus for Kidsfirst Alexandra in a comprehensive initiative that has had long lasting impacts.

As a result of an intense focus in these areas, there were significant shifts in teaching practice for kaiako and learning outcomes for tamariki, and evolution of practices, understandings, and ways of being. The team strengthened the sense of whanaungatanga, tūhonotanga, and partnership with whānau Māori.

Kaiako took the time to learn from whānau about who they are, and what matters to them, including their pepeha, which in turn, kaiako shared. By being intentional about their actions, the cultural heritage of tamariki and whānau is now more visible, and alive in everyday kindergarten life.

Community ties have been strengthened – kaiako are now connected with others in the region through a kapa haka/waiata group, and the learnings have been shared across the Kidsfirst network.

Our thanks to Mortlock McCormack Law for their sponsorship of this year’s Inspiring award.

INSPIRING HIGHLY COMMENDED: Ensuring inclusion for all


The entire environment, programme, and practices came under the spotlight at Kidsfirst Bush Street, to ensure the kindergarten is inclusive of all tamariki. Kaiako worked hard to focus on what could be done to support all children, and remove barriers to make the kindergarten accessible to all, especially those with additional needs.

As a result, barriers to participation and learning were removed, thanks to environmental adaptations, rituals to support the Positive Behavioural Support work they have been doing, and the implementation of a range of professional learning into everyday practice.

Our thanks to One NZ for their sponsorship of this year’s Highly Commended Inspiring award.

ENGAGED: With a Pacific heart


Throughout 2022, the Kidsfirst Hoon Hay team took part in the research project, ‘Soso’o le fau ma le fau – Connect the fibre with another fibre: Supporting successful transition of Pacific tamaiti from early childhood education to school’.

Three local primary schools, and three other preschools were involved in the project, which led to the area of transition to school becoming the focus of the kindergarten’s Complex Internal Evaluation for 2022.

As a result, ties with local primary schools have been strengthened, with more regular school visits. The school environment is more visually reflective of Pacific cultures, and there is more familiarity with individual pese (songs) and lotu (religion).

The research project’s report recognised the strong sense of cultural identity, language, and culture in Kidsfirst Hoon Hay tamariki. Kaiako have listed to tamariki voices to better understand the perspectives of children around school transition, while the research has brought together the voices of tamariki, whānau, and kaiako.

And, the ako lives on, with the mahi continuing under new leadership when the Head Teacher moved to a position at another Kidsfirst kindergarten.

Our thanks to BDO for their sponsorship of this year’s Engaged award.

ENGAGED: This is our place


Place-Based Learning has been the focus at Kidsfirst Queenspark for a number of years, starting with the local cultural narrative, moving into place-based inquiry, and then sharing kaiako and tamariki knowledge on a day-to-day basis.

The teaching team set out to discover more about their local area, and Christchurch as a whole – and to learn more from whānau, many of whom had generations of local history to share.

A pepeha, developed with tamariki and whānau, is now sung each day, and tamariki often take it home with them and share it with family and friends. Panels created by whānau based on collaborative tamariki art are on proud display near the area where the pepeha is performed, while regular local walks help build and sustain knowledge.

While the journey of understanding the place of kindergartens in their local communities is nothing new, the Queenspark team were recognised in this year’s Values Awards for the extra effort, and time they put into this project, and the use of their own talents and those of their community to develop the daily rituals to keep the learning alive.

Our thanks to Tredsafe and OfficeMax, for their sponsorship of this year’s Engaged award.

PASSIONATE: Whakamanamana Every Day


The team at Kidsfirst Frankton are passionate about bringing fun and joy to kindergarten life, and keeping tamariki at the centre of the programme – and this was recognised at the 2023 Values Awards.

Bringing uniqueness and the essential spark of joy to every day, kiakao continue to look for new ways to engage their tamariki, whānau, and community.

Whether they’re making dog-safe biscuits for their local furry friends, or inviting whānau to work alongside tamariki to create special paving stones, there’s a sense of excitement at the heart of the learning at this kindergarten.

Our thanks to Portacom NZ for their sponsorship of this year’s Engaged award.



Enthusiasm and playfulness are at the heart of efforts by Kidsfirst Belfast to better incorporate New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) into all aspects of kindergarten life.

In both te reo Māori and English, NZSL can now be found in assessment documentation, Educa posts, books and videos for new tamariki, their physical environment, and in the kindergarten’s community newsletter.

Bringing fun to this project meant light-hearted daily NZSL interactions with tamariki, supporting them to acknowledge and communicate emotions using NZSL, and incorporating it into mihi and karakia.

The learning hasn’t stopped at kindergarten, with children taking their newfound signing skills home, and gratitude from the family of a child with additional needs, who only uses NZSL at home, for recognising and promoting acceptance of the use of the language in the wider world.

In a recent survey, 94% of whānau reported that their child talked about, or used NZSL at home, and 100% agreed about the importance of having an awareness of it.

Our thanks to One NZ for their sponsorship of this year’s Highly Commended Passionate award.

BOARD AWARD: Removing barriers and improving access


With accessibility at the forefront of everything they do, the team at Kidsfirst Hargest Crescent have worked for a number of years towards creating an inclusive kindergarten environment welcoming all types of learners.

The year-long project recognised at this year’s Values Awards was undertaken in partnership with the Ministry of Education. It sought to increase the use of visual communication systems, and language facilitation strategies to help tamariki, including those with additional learning needs, or English as a second language, to express themselves alongside spoken language.

These new ways of communicating are now just part of everyday kindergarten life, and the team remains focused on sustaining the programme.

Our thanks to One NZ for their sponsorship of this year’s Highly Commended Passionate award.


Every year, alongside our teaching teams, we recognise those individuals in our kindergarten communities who have made significant contributions with our Community Champion awards. We’re so grateful for everyone who enriches the lives of our tamariki. Nō reira, tēna koutou katoa, for everything you do, every day.

Heather Anderson – Kidsfirst Isleworth

Heather arrived at Kidsfirst Isleworth one day on her walker and introduced herself – and from then it has been all go. Every Monday, Heather volunteers at the kindergarten, and is a great role model for tamariki when she lends a helping hand, or supports them in their play. Heather also helps in the end of term clean-up and by donating fresh produce. Heather doesn’t let her limitations limit her, and supports the kindergarten in so many ways – with practical help, cleaning, fundraising, and most of all, by being a special presence in the life of tamariki.

Megan Wright – Kidsfirst Vickery Street

Taking the role of chief gardener at Kidsfirst Vickery Street, Megan Wright comes in every few weekends to tend to the lush kindergarten garden. Whether it’s planting, weeding, or making the kindergarten look beautiful, kaiako say Megan has completely transformed their kindergarten space. She gives so generously of her time, even with her own busy whānau, and is also appreciated for showing tamariki how to look after their place and be good kaitiaki of their environment.

Nik Colley – Kidsfirst Sumner

When Kidsfirst Sumner’s playground needed some work done, Nik Colley was more than happy to help. Using his talents as a landscape architect, Nik designed a space for tamariki that was not only new and exciting, but also met strict Ministry of Education standards. He did his own research into the requirements, and also helped to upcycle materials from the existing playground, creating a new and exciting space that is explored every day. Nik still helps out even though his daughter has moved on to school – including recently helping plant 31 native trees in Kidsfirst Sumner’s big backyard.

Lorraine Gibbs – Kidsfirst Niu

When the tamariki at Kidsfirst Niu see Lorraine Gibbs pull up to their kindergarten, there are cries of “Nana’s here!” Tamariki at the kindergarten are excited to spend time with Lorraine, who gives generously of her time twice a week, working with tamariki one-on-one and in groups. Tamariki know that Lorraine will listen to them intently, and can extend on their ideas. She is kind, patient, and makes a contribution to the ‘family feel’ of Kidsfirst Niu, nurturing beautiful bonds with kindergarten whānau, too.

Thanks to our sponsors

Every year, we are so thankful to the supporters and sponsors who help us to celebrate our winners with fantastic prizes.
Ngā mihi nui, thank you for your generosity.