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To: Chris Hipkins, Minister of Education

Enable full time nature based early childhood education in NZ

Enable full time nature based early childhood education in NZ

We are asking the government to change the current ‘Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations’ to enable early childcare education providers to set up and run full time nature based early childhood education (ECE) centres.

Currently all ECE licences require 2.5sm of indoor space per child. A nature based centre doesn't need this indoor space, however there will likely be some form of shelter.

This petition will support a formal submission that will be presented to the Minister of Education and will suggest a new licence type for nature bases ECE centres in New Zealand.

When we say nature based ECE we mean centres that run their programmes almost entirely outdoors e.g. in a reserve, park, beach-lands or piece of bush.

Why is this important?

Children today are less active and more sedentary than previous generations having limited opportunities to spend regular time in nature. With parent’s busy lives and our children spending more time in childcare centres than ever before, they do not get to experience the same nature-based play opportunities that their parents and grandparents experienced.

This is having a detrimental effect on our children. We are seeing children becoming weaker, less resilient and less imaginative. Younger and younger they are suffering from mental health problems, obesity, oral language developmental problems, anxiety and stress.

There is a movement happening in New Zealand right now as parents and educators recognise the benefits that nature has to offer and visibly see the incredible changes it makes in the lives of their tamariki.

There are so many benefits [1] [2] that nature play can offer including:
• Reducing stress
• Improving social relations
• Enhanced cognitive abilities
• It supports creativity and problem solving
• Increased physical activity, sensory and motor development
• Improved academic performance including oral language, decision making and negotiation skills.

In the early years of life, play, particularly free, unstructured and outdoors is essential for healthy brain development, socio-emotional development and healthy musculoskeletal and sensory systems. It is far more important than direct instruction.

Nature can not only heal our children it can build confidence, resilience and is beneficial for their mana atua and overall kotahitanga.

It provides them with age appropriate risky play opportunities which allow children to understand their own limitations, develop their problem-solving skills and teaches them to overcome fears and anxieties.

Creating a play experience outside on a regular basis will not only educate our children about where their curiosity may take them, it also feeds a deeper connection to our natural environment. Instilling these connections in this new generation is of most importance to our Kaitiakitanga and environmental sustainability.

In other parts of the world, full time nature education programmes are well established in ECE. These countries include Sweden, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, England, Scotland, Wales, America and Australia. They are often called forest kindergartens.

Please sign this petition for our children and grandchildren to help give them the option of full time nature-based education in New Zealand.

The benefits are not just immediate but long term and with the early years being a critical time for brain development, supported nature-based play is a must for New Zealand.


News Paper Article:
TV Interiew - The Project:
Radio Interview with Jesse Muligan:
Radio Interview with Mike Hosking:

Reasons for signing

  • You only have to read the research !!!!
  • The benefits of time in nature are great. Would love to access this not just as kindy but also as school option.
  • My children attend bush kindy once a week. They love going. They have learned a lot about taking calculated risks and challenging themselves. I think all children would benefit from attending bush kindy.


2019-06-23 19:53:46 +1200

5,000 signatures reached

2018-07-12 13:54:22 +1200

1,000 signatures reached

2018-07-09 21:44:12 +1200

500 signatures reached

2018-07-07 23:18:06 +1200

100 signatures reached

2018-07-06 22:06:30 +1200

50 signatures reached

2018-07-06 17:33:11 +1200

25 signatures reached

2018-07-06 16:26:24 +1200

10 signatures reached