A Ministry of Education report has confirmed that 2016 was a tragic year for New Zealand's preschoolers, with one child dead and a record 163 complaints upheld against early childhood educators.

Among a spate of accidents in November 2016, 4-year-old Aldrich Viju died on a slide at Angels Childcare in Takapuna just a few days after four children were hit by a falling tree at Discoveries Educare in Newmarket.

Complaints against both centres were among the 163 complaints upheld in 2016 - up from 79 when complaints were first reported in 2013, 106 in 2014 and 104 in 2015.

After investigations into the complaints, the ministry cancelled the licences of 23 services, placed another 23 on provisional licences until changes were made, and suspended one service's licence.

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The ministry's report on 2016 complaints has been published today, four months later in the year than its 2015 report which came out in December 2016.

But for the first time, the latest report lists details of all 331 complaints received, although no centres are named.

It says the centre where the child died on a slide, which is known to be Angels Childcare, was placed on a provisional licence while police and Worksafe investigated, but neither agency pressed charges.

Centre owner McCloughen told the Herald last year that Aldrich Viju was sliding down a plastic slide with a stilt - a child's walking toy held together with cord - when it caught on the slide.

Worksafe looked at the equipment in the playground to determine whether it was faulty, but investigators told McCloughen there was no foreseeing that wearing stilts on a slide could be deadly.

However Worksafe is prosecuting two parties in relation to the falling tree at Discoveries Educare. A Worksafe spokeswoman said a first court appearance had occurred and the prosecution was continuing.

Four children were hospitalised after a tree fell on them at Discoveries Educare in November 2016. File photo
Four children were hospitalised after a tree fell on them at Discoveries Educare in November 2016. File photo

Other accidents where complaints against centres were upheld included:

• A child broke a leg falling off playground equipment. The service was placed on a provisional licence and was asked to review its procedures for responding to injuries. It gave full first aid training to all staff and regained its full licence, but the child's family took the child out of the centre.

• A child was "found unresponsive" but staff failed to call an ambulance and rang a parent instead. The centre manager left the service, the centre was told to do a full review of emergency procedures and was given training.

• A child "received a number of serious injuries". The adult concerned left the service.

• A child fell from play furniture and broke an arm. The service "strengthened health and safety practices".

• Children were injured on play equipment. The centre made the playground structure more stable and eventually removed it.

• A 14-month-old toddler with food allergies was taken to hospital with breathing difficulties. The doctor said it was "highly likely that she had been given the wrong formula". The centre made "changes to strengthen and align policies and practice".

• A child was badly hurt in a stair fall. The ministry found "incomplete staff and room rosters" and required changes.

• A staff member was alleged to have abused children physically and verbally. The employee was dismissed and the centre was placed on a provisional licence until its procedures and systems were reviewed.

In several other cases, children were found walking out of childcare centres and the managers were required to install more secure gates.

In one case, a centre was referred to police after a child left a centre "unattended".

Another complaint was upheld against a centre which did not inform a parent after a child told a teacher that she or he had been sexually abused.

"Abuse continued until child informed parent months later," the report said.

"Service provider acknowledged disclosure from child should have been acted on earlier. Further professional development provided to staff on the service's child protection policy. Complainant reported offending to CYFS. Child received counselling and perpetrator arrested."

The ministry cancelled the licences of 23 services, placed another 23 on provisional licences until changes were made, and suspended one service's licence.