The importance of early childhood education programmes has been widely established by researchers, but there has been little research on the outcomes of early childhood Kaupapa Māori educational initiatives in Aotearoa New Zealand. The aim of the research project reported here, He Piki Raukura, was to define Māori child behaviour constructs that may underlie positive Māori child development. We conducted in-depth interviews with two experts and 21 whānau participating in a Kaupapa Māori early years programme in Taranaki. Five themes were identified: local Māori identity; building whānau/ community; commitment to a shared kaupapa; clear and consistent processes; and dealing with issues positively. Through wānanga, four Māori child behaviour constructs were defined: tuakiri (secure local Māori identity); whānauranga (acting as a member of whānau); manawaroa (persisting despite difficulty); and piripono (integrity, commitment and responsibility for a shared kaupapa). These constructs provide novel ways of understanding child development that can be applied to explore how Kaupapa Māori early years initiatives might impact on development.