Annual ECE Census 2019: Fact Sheets

Publication Details

These fact sheets summarise the results from the June 2019 Annual Census of ECE services. They provide snapshots of a sector-wide statistical summary of key aspects of the early childhood education sector.

Author(s): Education Data and Knowledge, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: December 2019


The Early Childhood Education (ECE) census is administered every year and provides a snapshot of high level statistics for ECE in New Zealand. Data captured is for a one week period, typically the last week in June and includes information about the services, enrolment/attendance numbers, teaching staff, and the use of languages.

The 2019 ECE census week was June 24 to 30.

Key Findings


  • Overall attendance at licensed ECE services have fallen from 200,588 attendances in last year’s Census 2018 to 198,923 attendances in 2019.
  • 63.9% of New Zealand children aged 0-4 years attended a licensed ECE service in the census week.
  • Younger children (under the age of 1) are less likely to attend ECE, and older children more likely; 95% of children aged 4 years attended ECE during the census week.
  • Education and care services accounted for 68% of attendances in 2018. The number of children attending education & care services increased to 135,237 children in 2019 (up 0.4% from 2018). All other services saw a slight decrease in the number of children enrolled.
  • The Tasman and Manawatu-Wanganui regions were the only regions to see an increase in attendance between 2018 and 2019. Attendances in the Tasman region increased by 2.0% and in the Manawatu-Wanganui region by 1.2%.
  • The biggest decreases in attendance were in the West Coast, Nelson and Gisborne regions. Attendances in the West Coast region decreased by 5.2% between 2018 and 2019, in the Nelson region by 4.2% and in the Gisborne region by 4.1%.


  • The total number of licensed Early Childhood Education services increased from 4,568 in 2018 to 4,653 in 2019.
  • The Auckland, Waikato, Marlborough and Otago regions saw the greatest increase in the number of ECE services between 2018 and 2019. The Gisborne, Tasman and West Coast regions saw the largest decreases in the number of ECE services.
  • The average occupancy rate for playcentres across New Zealand was 48.0% during the 2019 ECE Census week, meaning that they were operating at under half of their licensed child places. The average occupancy rate for kindergartens was 82.3%, and for education & care services it was 78.8%. On average, these services were operating with around 20% of their licensed places still available.
  • Adult-child ratios were slightly lower in 2019 than in 2018. There was a national average of 5.6 children per adult during each service’s busiest time during the 2019 ECE Census week, down from a national average of 5.7 in 2018.
  • Adult-child ratios are higher for services that only have children aged 2 years old and over (6.8 children per adult on average), and lower for those services that only have children aged less than 2 years old (2.9 children per adult on average). These ratios are consistent with regulatory requirements.

Teaching Staff

  • The overall number of teaching staff at licensed ECE services increased between 2018 and 2019, while the proportion of qualified to not-qualified staff decreased very slightly.
  • The overall increase in the number of teaching staff was caused by increased numbers of teaching staff at education & care services. There was an increase of 3% (842 individuals) at education & care services between 2018 and 2019 to 27,199 teachers. The overall number of education & care services also increased by 3%.
  • Both kindergartens and home-based services saw decreases in the number of teaching staff employed between 2018 and 2019 – the number of kindergarten teachers decreased by 5% (194 teachers) and home-based coordinators by 1% (10 coordinators).
  • 65% of teaching staff identified as European/Pākehā in 2019, with 16% identifying as Asian, 8% as Māori, 7% as Pacific, and 4% either identified as other ethnicities or did not state their ethnicity.
  • The number of qualified teaching staff at licensed services continued to increase, and the proportion of qualified to non-qualified staff remained largely the same between 2018 and 2019. The number of qualified teaching staff increased from 21,467 in 2018 to 21,767 in 2019.
  • 100% of home-based coordinators were qualified in 2019, meeting our regulatory requirements. 94.0% of kindergarten, 63.1% of education & care, and 81.5% of teaching staff at other service types were qualified in 2019.
  • The number of all-day, teacher-led, centre-based services where over 80% of their teaching staff are qualified increased from 2018 to 2019. Out of the 3,342 all-day, teacher-led, centre-based licensed ECE services in 2019, 96% of services (3,208 services) had a teaching staff qualification rate of over 80%. This means these services were expected to have met the requirements for the “80%+ funding band” and were therefore paid a higher hourly rate.
  • In 2019, 99.8% of all-day teacher-led kindergartens met the requirements for the 80%+ funding band, as did 95.6% of all-day teacher-led education & care services.

Language use in ECE

  • Teacher-led services delivered at least some of their education programme in 77 different languages in 2019
  • In 2018, 111 teacher-led ECE services spent 51-80% of their teaching time in a language other than English (‘bilingual’ services). This number decreased to 107 services in 2019.
  • There are now teacher-led services offering bilingual Dutch, Panjabi or Pukapukan instruction, while there are no longer services offering bilingual instruction in Russian or Tokelauan.
  • In 2019, 96 teacher-led services spent between 81-100% of their teaching time in a language other than English (‘immersion’ services), 5 more than in 2018.
  • There are now teacher-led services offering immersion teaching in Cook Islands Māori, Dravidian (not further defined) and Hindi, while there are no longer services offering immersion instruction in Pukapukan or Yue.
  • The 444 whanau-led Te Kōhanga Reo services account for the majority of non-English immersion early learning services in New Zealand.
  • The Bay of Plenty is the region with the most kōhanga reo services (82 kōhanga reo), followed by the Waikato region (70) and the Hawke’s Bay (56).
  • The West Coast is the only region in New Zealand that does not have any kōhanga reo – 2016 was the last Census in which there was a kōhanga reo in the West Coast region.

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