Judging panel for the PMs Excellence Awards announced

Adventurer and outdoor education provider Sir Graeme Dingle and Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero are among those who will judge the 2018 Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Award finalists, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today.

The annual Awards celebrate the outstanding work being done in schools and early learning services to support children and young people across the country.

“I am really pleased with the exceptional New Zealanders who have agreed to contribute to the judging process this year. Their time and commitment to reward the best in education is remarkable,” Mr Hipkins said.

“The panel members bring a wealth of experience and mana to the judging process, to assess the outstanding programmes in our early learning services, schools and kura.”

The Awards include four categories, the Supreme Award and an Education Focus Prize that changes focus every year.

The 2018 Education Focus Prize – Takatū Prize celebrates outstanding inclusive practices that enable all children and young people with additional learning needs to succeed.

The Awards are judged in a two-step process. Up to 20 finalists will be selected by a group of education experts, with those entries then viewed by the judging panel before the panel decides each of the category winners.

Winners will receive $20,000 and funding for a professional development opportunity. The supreme award winner will receive an additional $30,000 and an opportunity to represent New Zealand education in an international forum.

“I want to encourage every education service from early learning to senior schools to enter the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards this year. The Awards provide an excellent opportunity to showcase best practice across the sector and to celebrate great achievements in improving outcomes for children and young people”, Mr Hipkins said.

Entries close 5.00pm on Friday 23 March 2018. Winners will be announced at a ceremony later this year.


The panel:


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Amanda Malu

Chief Executive, Plunket 


In September 2016 Amanda became the Chief Executive of Plunket, following six months as Acting Chief Executive.


Amanda joined Plunket in 2014 as the Chief Marketing Officer and brings a wide range of senior leadership experience to the organisation.


Working across government and education institutions Amanda has led significant marketing and behaviour change campaigns, including the highly successful ‘It’s not Ok’ campaign against family violence while at the Families Commission. Most recently she has held senior management roles within the science and tertiary education sectors.


Amanda is passionate about the opportunity that Plunket has to make a real difference in the lives of all children and their families and through her leadership, aims to ensure every family is able to access Plunket support when needed.


Amanda is the current chair of the Wellington East Girls’ College Board. She is of Ngai Tāhu descent. Amanda grew up in Christchurch and she has lived in Wellington for the past 18 years.


Amanda re-joins the Panel after serving as an education expert for the 2017 Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards. 


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Carmen Dalli

Professor, School of Education, Victoria University of Wellington


Carmen started her academic career in the Department of Teaching the Early and Middle Years of the Faculty of Education at the University of Malta. She joined Victoria University of Wellington in 1986.


In 1994 Carmen was involved in the establishment of the Institute for Early Childhood Studies and has served as its Director for several years. Between 2006 and 2013 she was an Associate Director of the Jessie Hetherington Centre for Educational Research. She was Associate Dean (Research) of the Faculty of Education between 2014 and 2016.


Carmen’s research combines an interest in developmental issues in the early years with a focus on early childhood policy and pedagogy. She has published widely in the field of early childhood teacher professionalism and has a particular interest in group-based early childhood education and care settings for children aged under three years.


Recent publications include Research, Policy and Advocacy for Young Children (2016, co-edited with A. Meade, NZCER) and Under-three year olds in policy and practice (2017, co-edited with E.J.White, Springer). The latter is the first in a new book series by Springer – Policy and Pedagogy with Under-three Year Olds: Cross-disciplinary Insights and Innovations – co-edited with E. J. White. She also co-edited (with Profs Linda Miller, Claire Cameron and Nancy Barbour) the recently released Sage Handbook of Early Childhood Policy (2018).


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Deanne Daysh JP

Chair, Wellington High School Board of Trustees


Deanne has over 30 years’ experience in education as a classroom teacher and in leadership positions including Deputy Principal.


Being involved in children’s education is of absolute importance to Deanne.  Her extensive governance experience having been on boards since 1989, includes chairing a primary school board of trustees, being on boards of trustees both in New Zealand and the UK, and on the national board of Parents Centre NZ.


Her passion for education enables her to offer energy and experience that focuses on students which assists in achieving results in student learning and achievement.


Deanne is a Justice of the Peace and volunteers for Kaibosh (food rescue).


Deanne has lived in Wellington for over 25 years and is currently on the leadership team and teaches new entrant students at Island Bay Primary School in Wellington.


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Henk Popping

Principal, Otumoetai Intermediate School, Kāhui Ako leader


Henk is the principal of Otumoetai Intermediate School and has been active in a wide variety of organisations in the Waikato and in Tauranga. These range from being a founding member of the Hamilton Residents and Ratepayers Association to President of the Tauranga Principals Association.


He is currently chairman of the Western Bay Energy Education Trust, a founding member of the AIMS GAMES Trust and chairman of the Tauranga Transport Network group. He is a member of the Ministry of Education’s Cross Sector Forum in Education.


Henk is currently Lead Principal of the Ōtūmoetai Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako. 




Under Henk’s leadership, Otumoetai Intermediate School was a joint winner in the Excellence in Teaching and Learning category, Atatū Award and inaugural winner of the Prime Minister’s Supreme Award – Takiri ko te ata Award in the 2014 Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards.


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John Rangiteremauri Heremia

Principal, Te Wharekura o Rakaumangamanga, Huntly

(Ngāi Tūhoe descent)


John has been the Principal of a high achieving Māori immersion school, Te Wharekura o Rakaumangamanga (Years 1 – 13), since 1990. The Wharekura is the largest Māori immersion school in New Zealand.


He is a pro-active and visionary leader in Māori education and upholding quality te reo Māori education pathways.


He has held leadership roles with Te Akatea, Ngā Kura ā Iwi o Aotearoa, as well as actively contributing to national leadership research initiatives and programmes.


He is a highly respected leader of iwi educational initiatives for Tūhoe and Tainui.


John is also the chairperson of the Waikato Endowed Colleges Trust. 


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Kate Shevland

Principal, Orewa College


Kate has been Principal of Orewa College for twenty years and has strong links across the education sector. She is currently on the Executive of the Auckland Secondary Schools Principals’ Association and is the leader of the Orewa Community of Learning | Kahui Ako.


She has previously been on the Board of Rodney Economic Development Trust, Auckland Secondary Schools Headmaster’s Association, Harbour Sport, Chair of North Shore Secondary Principals Group, and on many local educational advisory committees. She was on the Ministerial reference groups for the Resource Teachers: Leaning and Behaviour (RTLB) review and 21st Century Learning.


Kate is currently on the New Zealand Qualifications Authority Board.


She is a strong advocate for relevant future focussed learning, responsive to student and societal needs.


Kate re-joins the Panel after serving as an education expert for the 2017 Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards. 

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Linley Myers

Principal, Royal Oak Primary School


Royal Oak Primary is a decile 8 contributing school with 650 students. Prior to winning her current position at Royal Oak Primary School, Linley was Principal for six years at Maungawhau School in Mount Eden.


Linley has had a varied background in education having spent three years as an evaluator in the Education Review Office and four years as a leadership advisor in the Education Advisory Service, based in Auckland. Both these experiences have added significantly to Linley’s depth of educational knowledge and understanding.


Linley has been appointed as the Te Iti Kahurangi Kāhui Ako Lead Principal for her nine neighbouring schools, leading the development of the community in its first two years. She is the lead Principal for Nga Manu Awhina (Cluster 8) Resource Teacher: Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) service and hosts an additional 32 RTLB as part of Royal Oak Primary School staff. Linley is a member of the National Executive for lead RTLB principals and has worked collaboratively with the executive team and Ministry of Education to develop a strategic direction for the service.


Linley has developed a highly inclusive school community with pride in its richly multi-cultural makeup in her time at Royal Oak and is frequently visited for the work in innovative learning environments that is developing throughout the school.


Linley is a silent partner of Myers Bruce Leadership consulting services in education.


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Dr Sarah Te One

Coordinator, Action for Children and Youth Aotearoa (ACYA)


Sarah is an independent professional development provider and researcher and is currently a member of the CORE Education’s Te Whāriki contract team.


Sarah has had over 25 years of experience in early childhood education as a teacher, researcher, lecturer, unionist, and as a parent. She has also worked in the Office of the Children’s Commissioner as Principal Advisor, Education.


Sarah has been involved in several major research projects including Centres of Innovation, Teaching and Learning Research Initiatives, a Teacher-led innovation fund project, and other Ministry of Education funded research projects.




Her research interests focus on children’s perspectives and influence on social policy, parent, and community partnerships in education, curriculum, transitions to school, and advocacy for children’s rights.


Sarah has been involved in running child rights advocacy courses with the Māori Wardens and education groups.


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Simon Heath

Principal, Renwick Primary School (Ngāi Tahu)


Simon has been teaching for 36 years, including 24 years as principal, the past 11 years as principal at Renwick School. He is on the nine-member Education Council.


Simon has been involved in numerous education working groups.


He is a past-president of the Marlborough Principals’ Association, past chair of Mistletoe Bay Trust, led the Marlborough Project ICT e-Learning programme, and is involved in the Eco Schools project at Renwick School.


He is currently chairman of the Mistletoe Charitable Foundation, and is on the Ministry of Education’s Kāhui Ako Reference Group.


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Soana Pamaka

Principal, Tamaki College


Soana Pamaka became Principal of Tāmaki College in 2006.  She was the first person of Tongan descent to become a High School Principal in New Zealand. Prior to her appointment as Principal, Soana was head of the History Department, a Dean, and a Deputy Principal at Tāmaki College. Under her tenure as Principal, both roll numbers and academic success has steadily increased at Tāmaki College.  


Away from the College, Soana is involved with a number of governance roles, which over the years have included the ASB Community Trust, Teach First NZ, Tāmaki Regeneration Company, and more recently she has been seconded to the Board of Te Papa, Wellington.


Soana works closely with students, staff, the community and her church. She is a highly respected leader in her community.







Judging Panel

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Colin W Rangi

Iwi Education Consultant


Colin Rangi is an uri of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Maniapoto iwi. With the completion of Ngāti Tūwharetoa’s Treaty Settlement, he was the Deputy Chair for Ngāti Tūwharetoa’s Treaty Claims, supporting the Chair, Te Ariki Sir Tumu te Heuheu, to whom he provides specialist advice. He was the previous Chair of Mokai Marae Trust.


Colin has had 45 years in education as a teacher, principal, Māori Advisor, University Lecturer, Manager of the Iwi Partnership between Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Ministry of Education, Māori Education Consultant, and an endorsed provider for NZ School Trustees Association.


Currently he has been approved by the Ministry of Education for appointment as a Commissioner and Limited Statutory Manager to assist schools.


He has also served as a Governance Facilitator establishing a new Kura and Board of Trustees. He has been a past council member of Waiariki Institute of Technology (2012-2014), representing Te Mana Mātauranga in which Colin was Deputy Chair of the Iwi Advisory group.  He is currently a Council member on the new Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology serving the Bay of Plenty.


In 2016 and 2017 Colin was a member of the Iwi Planning Group to develop the Māori History in Aotearoa initiative to teach in all New Zealand schools and Kura.


Colin’s other past leadership roles include Chair Māori Reference Group on the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, Māori Strategic and Implementation Plan, Chair of Iwi-Ministry of Education Hui Taumata Mātauranga, past Chair of Tūwharetoa Māori Sports Awards, and Project Manager of Tūwharetoa Cultural Knowledge Project.


Colin re-joins the Panel after serving as a judge for the 2016 and 2017 Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards. 


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Deborah George

Co-founder, Teach First NZ

Executive Chair, InZone Education Foundation

Trustee, Woolf Fisher Trust


Deborah’s career in education spans three decades in a variety of roles across the commercial, government, and not-for-profit sectors.


Initially a secondary school teacher, Deborah went on to own education businesses in Hong Kong and New Zealand, worked for the Australian Government marketing education services in Hong Kong and China and was one of a team of three to expand the Duffy Books in Homes programme, a nationwide initiative to increase the penetration of books in homes in low socioeconomic areas.


Deborah spent five years on the board of trustees of Auckland Grammar School as an elected parent representative and was employed for 12 years as Director of Development and Director of Enrolment and External Relations. 


Deborah’s belief in the transformative power of education led her to co-found Teach First NZ, a not-for-profit she saw while on sabbatical in the UK in 2011. Teach First NZ engages top graduates to teach in secondary schools serving low decile communities.


Currently Executive Chair, she was also a founding trustee of another educational equity initiative, the InZone Education Foundation (IZEF). IZEF enables Māori and Pacific Island students to attend top performing state schools by developing boarding hostels within the school zone and providing them with the necessary academic and pastoral support.


In 2017 Deborah was invited to become a Trustee of the Woolf Fisher Trust. The Trust was established in 1960 to recognise and reward excellence in education and fulfils this mandate through its prestigious fellowship and scholarship programmes.


Deborah re-joins the Panel after serving as a judge for the 2017 Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards. 


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Sir Graeme Dingle KNZM MBE ONZM

Founder and Director of the Hillary Outdoors Education Centres, and the Graeme Dingle Foundation


Sir Graeme has dedicated over 45 years of his life to improving outcomes for New Zealand’s young people. He pledged to dedicate his life to positively impact on New Zealand’s negative youth statistics. A humanitarian and philanthropist with a passion for mountaineering and adventure sport, Sir Graeme is one of the world's leading outdoor adventurers.


He founded the Outdoor Pursuit Centre of New Zealand (OPC) in 1972, now the Hillary Outdoors Education centres, and Project K in 1995, now the Graeme Dingle Foundation which delivers developmental programmes to nearly 30,000 children and young people each year.


He has inspired, organised, and led numerous expeditions. These have included many rock-climbing, mountaineering, and adventuring firsts throughout the world including a sea, mountain, and river traverse from the South Island to Auckland with six convicted violent offenders, and a two-stage epic circuit of the Arctic. He also has completed several Antarctic expeditions.


Graeme combines his love of the outdoors and adventure with a strong commitment to social responsibility and change, and has been the impetus for many community campaigns and directives.


He is the recipient of a variety of distinguished awards, and in 2002 he was awarded the Visionary Leader Award, in the Deloitte Top 200 Awards, for his work with Project K. Graeme inspires people, inspires confidence, and acts on his convictions and understanding of the importance of our youth to develop a better world.


Sir Graeme’s many accolades include an MBE for services to outdoor pursuits, an ONZM in 2000 for his services to youth, the Award of New Zealand for services to Sport and Recreation, and was knighted for services to youth in 2017.


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Graham Hingangaroa Smith CNZM

Distinguished Professor, Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi 


Graham is an internationally renowned Māori educationalist who has been at the forefront of initiatives in the education field and beyond. His academic background is within the disciplines of education, social anthropology, and cultural and policy studies, with recent work centred on developing theoretically informed transformative strategies to improve Māori and Indigenous cultural, political, social, educational, and economic well-being.


He has been involved in the development of Tribal- Universities and was the foundation chairperson of Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi Council. He has also served on the University of Auckland Council and is a former Professor of Education and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Māori), at the University of Auckland. He is a former and now retired CEO of Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi. He currently leads the new Institute for Post-Treaty Settlement Futures.


Graham’s earlier training was in Social Anthropology completing an MA (Hons) dissertation on Māori Rituals of Encounter. His PhD thesis in Education was on Kaupapa Māori Theory as Transformative Praxis. He is a trained primary teacher and taught in Auckland schools, before he returned to lecture at Auckland Teachers’ College. He was a foundation teacher in the Kura Kaupapa Māori school movement.


His academic leadership has informed the emergence of Māori education studies within New Zealand universities and across the broader tertiary sector and he maintains a strong influence in the Māori language revitalisation movement. Graham has also worked extensively with other indigenous/First Nations’ peoples across the world including Australia, Canada, Micronesia, India, Norway, Hawaii, Alaska and the US mainland. He spent six years in Canada where he worked as Head of Education Policy Studies at the University of British Columbia.


He is in constant demand as an invited contributor to international forums/ conferences on indigenous issues. More recently he has been assisting other universities in the international arena to effectively meet the needs of indigenous students, faculties and communities. Professor Smith has been recognised for his contributions including Honorary Doctorates from Canadian institutions (a D.Litt from UNBC and a LLD from OUC), an elected Fellow of the prestigious American Education Research Association and received a Queens Honour, a CNZM in 2013.


In 2017 he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the education sector.


Graham re-joins the Panel after serving as a judge for the 2016 and 2017 Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards. 


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Dr Helen May

Emeritus Professor, University of Otago


Helen was a junior school teacher for 9 years. Later, when she had her own children, she worked in childcare, including five years as the Coordinator of the Victoria University of Wellington crèche.


In 1987 Helen began work in teacher education at Hamilton Teachers' College, later the University of Waikato. During the early 1990s she worked with Sir Tamati and Lady Tilly Reedy and Margaret Carr on the development of Te Whāriki, a first bicultural and national early childhood national curriculum. More recently, the original writers were advisors to the Ministry of Education project that updated Te Whāriki (2017).


In 1995 Helen was appointed to the first New Zealand Professorial Chair in Early Childhood Education at Victoria University of Wellington. In 2005, she was appointed as Professor and Head of the Faculty of Education at the University of Otago, and was the foundation Dean of the University of Otago College of Education (2006-2011).


Helen retired from university teaching in 2016 but continues to speak about the early years’ history, curriculum, and policy with teachers and researchers in various national and international settings. She is currently involved in a cross national study Re-imagining teaching: lessons for current times from progressive 20th century experimental schools.


Helen has published 13 books in the field of early years education and schooling including Teachers Talk Teaching (with Sue Middleton) 1997; Discovery of Early Childhood (1997, 2013); School Beginnings 2006; I am five and I go to school 2011; and most recently Growing a Kindergarten Movement (with Kerry Bethell) 2017.


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Iva Ropati

Principal, Howick College, Auckland


Iva was a former professional rugby league player who represented New Zealand and played for a number of clubs in the UK, Australia and NZ Warriors. Following his playing career, Iva served on the NZRL Board of Directors and also spent time on the Counties Manukau Zone Board for the NZRL. He is currently a board member for College Sport Auckland. 


In his educational career, Iva is an experienced Principal of sixteen years and has served two Auckland secondary schools.  He led the transformation of One Tree Hill College before moving to his current school, Howick College.


Iva has been a member of a number of educational boards and advisory groups including the Ministerial National and Regional cross sector forums, Ministry Boys’ Advisory Group, MIT Pasifika Advisory Group, and most recently serving as an inaugural member of the Education Council.  Iva is also a foundation executive member of the NZ Pasifika Principals Association.


In 2009 Iva was one of six New Zealanders awarded a Sir Peter Blake emerging leadership award. This award recognises New Zealanders who have demonstrated significant achievement, leadership talent, and potential.  Across all areas of leadership in New Zealand it is awarded to people who are making a difference in their respective leadership contexts.


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John Bongard ONZM

Ex-CEO, Fisher and Paykel

Board Chair, The Rising Foundation


John is the former chief executive with Fisher & Paykel, where he began his career in 1973 and retired in 2009.


He is into his seventh year on the Netball New Zealand Board, where he is the chairman. His relationship with Netball New Zealand stretches back 20 years, when Fisher & Paykel began their sponsorship of international netball in 1996.


John is now a director on a number of boards in New Zealand and offshore. He is currently on the Board of Narta Australia Pty Limited, H.J. Asmuss & Co Limited, WilliamsWarn NZ Limited, and is the Local Chairman of South Auckland Partners – BNZ.


He also chairs a Thailand based steel processing company - PSCTH Thailand. John is currently the Chair of the SkyCity Auckland Community Trust.


He works with Totara Hospice in Manurewa as Deputy Chairman of the Totara Foundation and other charitable organisations, including Founder and Chairman of The Rising Foundation which aims to unlock the potential of students in south Auckland schools by developing their leadership skills. John is also Deputy Chairman of the Counties Manukau Pacific Trust Board.


John was awarded an ONZM for services to business in the 2010 New Year Honours List.


John re-joins the Panel after serving as a judge for the 2016 and 2017 Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards. 


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Paula Tesoriero MNZM

Disability Rights Commissioner


A world champion athlete, former senior public service manager and governance expert Paula took up her appointment as Commissioner in August 2017.


Paula has a high profile in the disability sector having served on several boards including the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation, NZ Artificial Limb Service, and Paralympics New Zealand. She also served on the Board of Sport Wellington and is a member of the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand. 


Paula is a former lawyer with a Post Graduate Diploma in Public Management and held senior management roles at Statistics NZ and the Ministry of Justice.


Winning gold in a world-record breaking time at the Beijing Summer Paralympics, her services to cycling were recognised when she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2009.


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Dr Wendy Kofoed

Principal, Newmarket Primary School


Dr Wendy Kofoed is Principal of Newmarket Primary School in central Auckland. She has broad experience of teaching and leadership and works with schools and teachers in New Zealand, and internationally. Wendy serves on several advisory groups, and is a lead principal of resource teachers.  She has involvement in diverse professional networks and local and global communities.   


Her academic and research interests include the role of schools in developing strong home and school partnerships, particularly community engagement in schools.


Wendy has particular interest in curriculum, digital technology, and futures education, and in developing, growing, and sustaining effective leadership. She continues to share and celebrate the strength of education in New Zealand.


Wendy re-joins the Panel after serving as a judge for the 2016 and 2017 Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards. 


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Wendy Lee

Director of the Educational Leadership Project Ltd.


Wendy has been involved in the early childhood education (ECE) field over the last 45 years as a teacher, tutor, lecturer, manager, professional development facilitator, and researcher. She now leads the Educational Leadership Project Ltd., which provides professional learning for the ECE sector in New Zealand.

Over the past two decades, Wendy has collaborated with Professor Margaret Carr at the University of Waikato on a number of research projects including the Centre of Innovation Project (Roskill South Kindergarten), the Royal Society of NZ Marsden Fund Early Years Project (Learning Dispositions in a Social Context), the Centre of Innovation Project (Greerton Early Childhood Centre) and a Teaching and Learning Research Initiative Project (Learning Wisdom). She was co-director of the National Early Childhood Assessment and Learning Exemplar Project that developed the Kei Tua o te Pae books on assessment of learning in the New Zealand early childhood sector.


Wendy has presented extensively at conferences on early childhood education, curriculum, leadership, and the value of Learning Stories to document children’s learning, throughout the world. She has delivered keynote lectures at many conferences and has advised teachers, educators, and government officials in a range of countries on current developments and issues in the ECE sector, both in New Zealand and globally.


Wendy has a deep interest in curriculum, advocacy, and leadership issues in ECE. She is highly enthusiastic about the power of documentation via Learning Stories to strengthen the learner identities of children and to make visible to the wider community, the learning that occurs in the ECE sector. Wendy is committed to the right of all children, parents and whānau to access high quality early childhood education. In particular, she is passionate about the importance of the outdoors for all children and the critical importance of a strong professional teaching community in the ECE sector.