There are now 25 kindergartens in New Zealand (Aotearoa), 7 day care centers and a number of play groups. There are 10 Steiner/Waldorf Schools, 5 of which have High Schools.
There are also 3 curative homes in New Zealand for adults and children. All the above are members or associate members of the Federation of Rudolf Steiner/Waldorf Schools in New Zealand. All Early Childhood education falls under the Ministry of Education in New Zealand and while this means the education is subsidized, which makes it possible for all children to attend, it also means we need to comply with state regulations.
Looking back. Anthroposophy was brought to New Zealand by affluent European settlers in the early twentieth century, shortly after Rudolf Steiner began lecturing in Europe. The Antroposophical society was established in 1933 and Steiner/Waldorf Education began in Hastings, the middle of the North Island in 1950.
Training. The main Anthroposophical training centre, Taruna College, was founded in 1982. This has been the home not only to education but also biodynamics, health and art courses. At present there is a 3 – year, modular Early childhood in – service course, run in partnership with the Federation and Taruna College.AUT (Auckland University of Technology) also offers a B. Ed in Steiner/Waldorf Early Childhood education and post graduate qualifications.
Major Concerns. It has taken a while for Steiner/Waldorf Schools to become integrated into the indigenous culture and to develop a curriculum that both embraces the essentials of Steiner/Waldorf education and Maoritanga. Early childhood is the fastest growing form of education in New Zealand, especially for children under three. We have no specific training for the child birth to three and many mainstream institutions with very little understanding of the very young child.
New Zealand is geographically very isolated and it is a challenge to feel part of the world movement even though Steiner/Waldorf education has been in existence here for over 60 years.
Kathy MacFarlane, kindergarten teacher in Auckland, also teaching on the training courses nationally and internationally and representative for New Zealand on the IASWECE Council.