An early childhood conference packed with high calibre speakers and a range of workshops has been labelled "one of the best yet" by organisers.

Celebrating Northland's Tamariki, the biennial early childhood education conference, was on for the seventh time on Saturday with the theme Whakawhanaungatanga - Partnerships in Practice.

Bronwyn Coulton, chairwoman of the conference committee and professional practice manager and external contract manager at Northland Kindergarten Association, said about 120 early childhood educators attended the event at Kamo High School.

"The calibre of the presenters that we brought in to Whangārei for the conference certainly made the conference an exciting and informative day for the participants... it was one of the best, it came together so well," she said.


The first conference was held in 2006 and was born out of a lack of opportunities for Northland early childhood teachers to upskill in the region.

The conference committee brings together Northland District Health Board, the Ministry of Education, Northland Kindergarten Association, Educare, Avenues EduCare (community based), Te Rito Maioha, Open Polytechnic of New Zealand and Ngātiwai Education Trust.

Nicola Davis and Bronwyn Patrick have a go at weaving. Photo/Michael Cunningham
Nicola Davis and Bronwyn Patrick have a go at weaving. Photo/Michael Cunningham

Coulton said attendees were asked to fill out an evaluation form, and said the feedback was positive.

"All of them indicate that it was a really excellent day. I don't think we dropped below excellent on that feedback, so really positive feedback on the workshops that they went to."

Presenters included Toni and Robin Christie from Childspace in Wellington, and Barbara Watson and Bridgit Williams from inspirED ECE Auckland. There were also workshops on Harakeke (flax) weaving and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

"It was making sure we target what is needed in the profession, about growing our teachers and what is current, so it was really valuable that we were able to have so many presenters doing that."

Coulton said the committee will have a wind-up hui in November and then reconvene in March to start planning the next conference in 2020.