Creating strong foundations for children and families in the community


Barnardos Early Learning supports children, wha¯nau and communities so that all children can flourish and reach their potential. Learning starts from the moment children are born, and the first five years of development creates a strong foundation for the rest of their lives.

This February we are excited to open our doors to “Te Rapa”, our second early learning centre in the Hamilton community, as well as our new Waikato home-based educator network. Te Rapa is a bright and welcoming space with large indoor and outdoor play areas, and is purpose-designed to stimulate and develop children’s natural curiosities. Our centre also has separate areas for babies and toddlers, to provide for their developmental needs.

Barnados Te Rapa

Barnados Te Rapa

We know that having high-quality, convenient early learning options close to schools makes a huge difference to parents and whānau. Te Rapa is a one-minute drive from Forest Lake School, Vardon School and St Peter Chanel School – making dropoff and pickups for siblings relaxed and simple. Te Rapa complements our existing centre in Hamilton “Te Totara”, which opened in 2010 in Rototuna, next door to Te Totara Primary School.

At Barnardos Early Learning we nurture the uniqueness of every child, by providing both centre and home-based options. Some children thrive in our early learning centres and can’t wait to return for another day of fun and exploration. Other children feel more comfortable in smaller settings, in a place that’s like their own home. We give whānau this choice and have a solution for all children, including a blended option for a child to attend sessions at our centre, as well as having sessions with a home-based educator. This is great for transitioning children from home-based to centre-based early learning, or matching our services to a whānau’s particular needs.

Home-based and centre-based early learning provides a comprehensive programme of learning experiences, planned and supported by qualified teachers. With our two Hamilton centres and Waikato home-based network, Barnardos can cater to the different needs of all Hamilton families and whānau.

Whether centre or home based, we place emphasis on creating a sense of wonder, connectedness, and responsibly to the natural environment for every child. Children from all our centres and home-based early learning networks throughout Aotearoa participate in many visits and activities, including nature reserves, animal parks, science exhibitions, neighbourhood clean-ups, and visiting and local parks. This is what you can expect from our new services in Hamilton too. We want children to explore and develop a growing interest and responsibility for their environment and learn about their role as kaitiaki of the world around them.

No child is an island. Children exist within the context of the family, whānau and community. We value the principle of whanau-ngatanga – a sense of family connection and relationships built through shared experiences and working together, which provide children with a sense of belonging. Te Tiriti o Waitangi is intrinsic to the way we work at Barnardos, and creating opportunities for cultural connections is part of daily learning. Throughout Aotearoa, we demonstrate our community development approach in action, acknowledging the importance of bringing everyone together. Whānau evening and weekend celebrations with arts and crafts, storytelling and language learning from different nationalities are a great way for our diverse communities to share and celebrate their own cultures, and for others to learn and embrace cultures different to their own.

Our general manager Barnardos early learning Jo Lambert explains that “for 40 years Barnardos has been offering home-based early learning, and so opening a home-based network in Hamilton to complement our new centre in Te Rapa was a natural choice. From experience we know that offering a choice of early learning options is important to meet a child or family’s needs. We are now welcoming teacher and educator applications from individuals who are interested in a career in early learning.”

Barnardos Early Learning is part of Barnardos New Zealand, which is Aotearoa’s charitable NGO for children and whānau. For 60 years, we’ve been part of communities around Aotearoa, helping children and young people to shine bright in childhood and beyond. Today our unique combination of social services, early learning services, and advocacy for the child sets us apart.

Our early learning services contribute to Barnardos New Zealand’s broader vision for each and every child – ‘an Aotearoa New Zealand where every child shines bright’.

Our shareholders are the children of Aotearoa, and through Barnardos Early Learning, we are here to create a social profit for them. That social profit manifests itself in resilient communities, families and whānau, and tamariki who benefit from learning and social development from an early age. It also means we can reinvest in our staff, services, facilities and innovative learning programmes.

We’re making a positive, long-lasting difference to children’s lives every day.


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