The Building Blocks

Within the Building Blocks tool, each ‘block’ represents an aspect of health and wellbeing.


Te Whāriki (the early childhood education curriculum), is seen as a whāriki, or a mat, woven from principles, strands, and goals. Similarly, the Building Blocks whole-service approach weaves together children, staff, parents/whānau, the wider early learning service community, along with the physical environment, policies and practices, and available resources essential to health and wellbeing.


To ensure a holistic approach to health, elements of Te Whare Tapa Wha (taha wairua, taha tinana, taha hinengaro and taha whānau) are woven into each block. The blocks do not stand on their own, they overlap, complement and weave into each other. By working your way through the blocks you will strengthen your whatu and that of the tamariki in your care, comprehensively integrating hauora into your early learning service community, and fostering the health and wellbeing of our mokopuna.


Checklists for each block contain the essential elements required to achieve each block. These checklists help you to assess what you are already doing and identify actions and activities which can be improved upon or implemented. Sample policies, resources and handy actions are also provided to help you achieve each block. You can work on one or more block at a time, and set your own pace, however working on one block at a time can be helpful to ensure you stay on track.

Wā kai

Kai Time
Good nutrition is fundamental to our wellbeing and our food choices are impacted by unhealthy food environments that normalise and promote affordable ultra-processed foods. Early learning services have the opportunity to create a culture of healthy eating and drinking where tamariki are supported to develop lifelong preferences that will help them grow into healthy adults.


A healthy smile affects not only physical health, but hauora overall, including psychological and social wellbeing. It can impact a child’s speech and self-esteem.

He Pai te Wai ū

Breastfeeding Friendly
Breastfeeding (ūkaipō) is a taonga that has been passed onto us from our tūpuna. Breast milk is the best first food for babies to help ensure optimal growth, development and health. Breastfeeding helps form a strong bond between mother and baby and helps lay the foundations of a healthy life.

Auahi Kore 1, 2, 3

Smokefree 1, 2, 3
Our tamariki copy what they see! They take on board both positive and negative behaviours they see happening around them. Parents/whānau and kaiako can influence tamariki to grow up smokefree when they lead by example and are smokefree themselves, and by talking to children about being smokefree.

Korikori tinana

Let’s Move
Traditionally we lived very active lives with much higher levels of daily activity compared to now. Engaging in regular physical activity has many health benefits. Active movement strengthens the body and brain as a child grows, increases relaxation, and strengthens eyesight, speech and language.

Ka whiti mai te Rā, ka pārekareka te wā

Fun in the Sun
Excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) during childhood and adolescence is a risk factor for skin cancer later in life. New Zealand, along with Australia, has the highest melanoma rates in the world. Sunburn, particularly in childhood and adolescence, also increase the risk of melanoma later in life.

Aukatia ngā Ngārara

Keep the Bugs at Bay
Young tamariki catch bugs and get sick more frequently than older children and adults due to poorer hygiene practices, being in close proximity in social settings and because their immune system is insufficiently developed to provide full protection against some illnesses. Early learning services are great places to establish positive behaviours about hygiene and disease prevention.

E hoki atu ki Papatūānuku

Let Nature In
Tamariki have a natural affinity and preference to play in nature, but their access to nature is rapidly diminishing. Spending time in nature as a child develops a stronger sense of connection to Papatūānuku (mother earth) and a sense of identity and connection (ukaipotanga) which forms a deep-seated love, appreciation and responsibility to care for and protect nature (kaitiakitanga -guardianship).

Kia Hauora te Hinengaro

Healthy Minds
Our mental wellbeing is a taonga (treasure). It is important we look after our mental wellbeing so we can lead our best and most fulfilling lives. When your taha hinengaro is strong, you can better cope with the ups and downs of life. You can express your feelings and reach out for support from others if you need to.
Get your ELS started with Building Blocks - Image

Get your ELS started with Building Blocks

Are you ready to strengthen your whatu (binding weave)? Create an account to begin your Building Blocks journey to improve the health and wellbeing of the tamariki in your service.
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Our Partners

Cancer Society DOC EastBay Eastern Bay Healthy Families Heart Foundation Manaaki Ora Mental Health Sports Bay of Plenty Toi Tangata Te Whatu Ora