The discovery of pre-schoolers travelling in a kohanga reo van while not correctly buckled in has outraged early childhood care providers, and spurred an investigation by the body in charge of kohanga.

The van was stopped on February 29, the first day of a three-month child-restraint campaign involving checkpoints throughout the Western Bay of Plenty region.

Five children were in the van. Two were in car seats secured with tether straps, but the van's seatbelts were not threaded through the frame of each seat.

Three children - two of whom were pre-schoolers - were sitting in the back with just lapbelts on.


Project Kiddiclick authorities refused to reveal the name of the kohanga reo involved.

Local Maori language-based pre-schools in the area contacted yesterday said they were not the culprit but teachers spoken to were appalled by the find.

Rose Walker, a kaiako (teacher) at Te Kohanga Reo o Poike, said local health organisations regularly visited to offer advice and pamphlets regarding child restraints and child safety. There was no excuse for ignorance. The kohanga needed "a good talking to" she said.

Te Kohanga Reo National Trust is the governing body of all kohanga reo in New Zealand.

Trust chief executive Titoki Black said staff from each of the 501 kohanga nationally were trained in the correct installation and use of child restraints in vehicles in 2008.

ACC provided 1800 child restraints for use in kohanga vehicles. The programme trained participants about legislation, different types of restraints, vehicle compliance, how to select the correct seat for the individual child's weight group, and included a practical test that qualified participants as technicians.

"An investigation will be conducted."

At Te Kohanga Reo o Hairini a teacher, who would not be named, said the checking of child restraints was policy there.


No shortcuts were taken with it. If there was no appropriately installed car seat in any car being used by the kohanga reo, the child was not taken, she said.

The offending driver should have known better.

"They could have been busy but there is no excuse for that really," she said. "They should have checked that the seatbelts were all secure before they loaded the children in."