For more than 60 years one voluntary organisation has met the changing needs of families and their communities and today remains highly active in the early childhood education sector. Playcentre is an internationally recognised early childhood organisation unique to New Zealand. It evolved in the 1930s & 1940s to support families and promote new developments in early childhood education. The National Federation was formed in 1948, based on the original philosophies of child initiated play and the importance of parents as educators of their own children.

Today there are 489 Playcentres affiliated to the New Zealand Playcentre Federation through each of the 33 regional Associations Playcentre acknowledges Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the founding document of Aotearoa and is committed to incorporation the principles of partnership in its policies and practices.


Playcentre philosophy is based on the ideas of child-initiated play and parents as first educators.

Playcentre is an early childhood education service, run as a parent co-operative, which commits to the following in order to ensure the quality of early childhood education in each session:

Because sessions are run as a co-operative, parents meet out of session to share experiences and information about the children, and meet the business needs of an early childhood centre. Decisions are usually done by consensus, to ensure all members feel heard and understood. Everyone is expected to take responsibility for something, depending on their capabilities and availability.

We are very proud of the excellent quality of our adult education programme and attendance in it is an essential component of being a Playcentre parent. This ensures we meet the requirements for licensed and chartered centres and more importantly, parents learn how to run sessions within Playcentre philosophy.