The Education Review Office says early childhood services need to lift their game when it comes to catering for Maori students.
A new report says nearly two-thirds of early childhood teachers and principals are not focused on helping Maori become competent and confident learners.
It also says more than half the services are not responding adequately to the expectations of whanau.
ERO evaluation services national manager Diana Anderson told Waatea News that 76% of Maori children attend mainstream early childhood services such as kindergarten or Playcentre.
She said parents have every right to expect their children will be given the best start in education.
She also said too often teachers and principals don't respond adequately to the expectations of parents and families of Maori children.
Ms Anderson says research shows Maori children learn better when their education is put in a Maori context.
However, Ms Anderson said the report shows many mainstream centres do work well with Maori whanau in helping their tamariki reach their education potential.