This article responds to an increasing emphasis on early childhood care and education (ECCE) as preparation for academic success and the child as a future economic resource, manifest in various recent government policy initiatives in Aotearoa New Zealand. The article explores the way this situation has arisen despite the aspirations of openness and plurality in the early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki, and a tradition of viewing the early years of childhood as a time of life rather than mere preparation for life.
A key focus of the article is examining the Ministry of Education (MoE) website’s framing of ECCE, including the linking to school sector National Standards for literacy and numeracy. Our analyses present this and associated policy initiatives as part of wider economically driven and globally referenced agendas that in turn position ECCE as preparation for school and the workforce. Our call is for closer, more critical analysis of these ongoing developments.