Playcentre is an internationally recognised Early Childhood organisation unique to Aotearoa New Zealand. It began as a parent co-operative during the 1940s to support families and promote new developments in early childhood education.

The New Zealand Playcentre Federation formed as a national organisation in 1948 by providing parent education, equipment and facilities for quality parent led ECE.

For more than 50 years this voluntary organisation has met the changing needs of families and their communities. Today there are 512 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 the principles of partnership in its policies and practices.

What does it do?

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:

  • learning through play
  • birth to school age
  • mixed age sessions
  • family involvement

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 made by consensus, to ensure all members feel heard and understood. Everyone is expected to take responsibility for something, depending on their capabilities and availability.

Playcentre’s philosophy is based on the ideas of child-initiated play and parents as first educators. It is a marvellous place for meeting other parents and finding support in your community.

How is it funded?

Playcentres are funded by the Ministry of Education and membership fees.

How can I get their help?

How much does it cost?

Each centre has its own membership policy. An average cost would be around $50 per term. Playcentre parent education is free of charge.

Link to the Playcentre website

This family-friendly site provides detailed information about all the playcentres around NZ … where they are, when they operate, how to join. The site also covers the parent education plan. There is a calendar of events, a discussion board and a list of resources. Also included is a list of playcentre shops for supplies. The site covers the federation’s history, charter, and FAQs.

The Kiwi Families Team

This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

Join more than 20,000 families

As we build a strong community of like minds:

  • Get the best tips from the best experts
  • Recipes, parties, crafts and activities
  • Special offers, competitions and more...

Sit back and relax and let us deliver to your inbox.

You might also be interested in:


Playcentre is early childhood education that promotes and encourages parents to be the first educators.  Read our Playcentre article for…

SPACE Programme

The SPACE (Supporting Parents Alongside Children’s Education) programme was developed within the Hutt Playcentre Association and is aimed mainly at…

Education glossary

A glossary is always helpful. Here in our education glossary you can find explanations for all those education terms and…

Home-based care

Home based care is care and education provided by adults in either their own home or the child’s.  Find out…

Welcome to Kiwi Families

We bring thousands of families together to learn from each other.

Join a community raising great kids: