The Auckland Kindergarten Association is a government-funded organisation that operates as a charitable trust. (CC22833)
AKA is governed by a board of nine elected members who are responsible for the governance of the Association. You can read the AKA Constitution here.
The day-to-day management role is delegated to the Chief Executive Officer who is supported by specialist staff at AKA's Head Office.
The Auckland Kindergarten Association is made up of 107 kindergartens, five KiNZ all day early learning centres, and five Playgroups. Each kindergarten or KiNZ Centre has a teaching team - typically a head teacher (or Centre Manager) and 2 - 4 teachers as well as support staff (such as Teacher Aides, Relievers and Administrators). The Playgroups are mostly run by the families that attend, with assistance from our Playgroup Co-ordinators.
MEET THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
ROBIN HOULKER, BOARD CHAIR
I have been a board member of the Auckland Kindergarten Association since 2010 and have a deep commitment to the Association's heritage. My connection began with my first position as a kindergarten teacher at Grey Lynn (formerly St James) and then Ferndale, followed by the Head Teacher role in the newly formed YWCA Mobile Preschool Unit, in partnership with the AKA. I chaired the AKA Appointments Committee and was on the Disciplinary Committee following time as the national president of the Kindergarten Teachers Association.
My passion for engaging the whole family and whanau around the child's learning was fostered in these early years and became, and still is, a strong part of my philosophy during my time as a teacher, lecturer, and education consultant over the past 40 years. As director of the internationally regarded intergenerational Manukau Family Literacy Programme (MFLP) from 2001- 2008 this philosophy was further strengthened and highlighted for me how significant, long-term positive outcomes for families can be achieved when the education sectors work more cohesively around family.
I hold a Masters degree in Adult Education and recently qualified as a coach and mentor. My consultancy work includes professional education research and literacy audits, publishing of a parent magazine, course development, workshops and staff development including SELO projects, public relations, media sponsorship and fundraising, mostly with a community focus. Advocacy is fundamental to my life and I currently serve as trustee of the Hillary House Leadership Centre and as the consumer representative on the NZBCF Clinical Advisory Group for the NZ Breast Cancer Register.
In my time on the AKA Board I have been a strong advocate for building our capacity through our strategic plan to meet the current needs of our families while recognising the importance of our teachers in all aspects of our programmes and delivery. As an honorary member of OMEP (World Early Childhood Organisation) I maintain currency with local and international early childhood perspectives. It has also been a delight to enjoy spending time with my grandchildren as they participate in our kindergartens in the past three years and particularly to share with them my great love of children's literature.
BRUCE MCLACHLAN, DEPUTY CHAIR
I have taught in both primary and secondary schools in Auckland for more than 30 years and have held a variety of school management and leadership roles. I recently retired as Principal of Swanson School in Auckland and I am now working in a consultative role, supporting Boards of Trustees, Principals and Leaders of Early Childhood Centres. I have also served on the Complaints Assessment Committee of the Education Council for over six years. I am therefore very experienced at dealing with all manner of complaints and conflict in schools and early childhood centres.
Kindergarten is, of course, where children learn through play. Since 2014, I have fielded numerous national and international enquiries about my philosophy of children’s play. As Principal of Swanson School I introduced the concept of Free Play, and, among many other invitations, I was asked to do a TEDx talk at Bond University and speak at an international Early Childhood conference in Australia.
I am excited to play a role in the Kindergarten movement for several reasons: Blockhouse Bay Kindergarten was where I began my own life of learning; one of my daughters and my sister both work in early childhood; I have worked closely with early childhood teachers and leaders in my role as a school principal and an investigator; and I have a particular interest in children’s play.
CHRIS BARROW, BOARD MEMBER
My youngest daughter attended and enjoyed Ponsonby Kindergarten until June of 2017, and I was grateful for the role that Kindergarten played in preparing her for school.
I have been a solicitor for more than 20 years, having worked for major international law firms in London (While & Case, Watson Farley & Williams, Dentons) as a tax and finance lawyer and in-house as general counsel of two London finance boutiques. Prior to practicing law in the UK, I was a tax consultant with BDO in Auckland.
More recently, I co-founded two healthcare investment businesses in the UK. I was both a board director and general counsel of both.
At the end of 2015 my wife and I moved back to New Zealand with our three children to spend more time with family and be more involved with our local community. Presently, I am working on collaborative business models in New Zealand.
I have a double degree in law and commerce (accounting major) from the University of Otago.
JO JUKES, BOARD MEMBER
I believe strongly that it is critical for families and communities to be involved in the governance of the Auckland Kindergarten Association and it is a privilege to join the AKA Board.
I am a multi award-winning fundraising and event professional, with a background in constituent engagement in the not-for-profit sector. I have experience developing and delivering the strategic direction of fundraising and long-term constituent engagement.
Right now, I am most interested in what is best for children.
I am very aware of the funding versus philosophy conflicts that many charitable organisations face and will champion decision-making that keeps international best practice ECE as its core principle. I would very much like to see a focus on engaging with families and communities as the primary means of future-proofing kindergarten’s place in society.
He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.
KATHERINE SOUNESS, BOARD MEMBER
Kia ora koutou – my name is Katherine Souness – former chairperson of Roskill South Kindergarten, mother of two kindergarten graduates, and primary school teacher.
As a new entrant teacher with 17 years’ experience and a parent of two girls aged 5 and 7, I have a deep working knowledge of the transition between kindergarten and school and of child development. I value community, child centred pedagogy and robust policies and procedures that provide a framework for our teachers to build excellent practice within.
I am keen to contribute to the momentum gathered by the Auckland Kindergarten Association over the last year. I am particularly interested in our constitution and how it can be improved to develop stronger community involvement now and into the future. I bring organisational skills, an eye for detail, tenacity, strength in researching and collating information, and a commitment to helping our kindergartens go from strength to strength.
As a board member, I am privileged to be able to contribute to the Association’s future direction.
JULIE ANDERSON, BOARD MEMBER
Hi, my name is Julie Anderson and my story began in the 1960s in West Auckland. The beautiful city of Tāmaki Makaurau has always been my home, and in particular the urban areas of Waitakere are the places where I have the strongest sense of turangawaewae. The beaches, the bush, the people, call me home every time I leave so I have settled with my own family and stayed.
I have had a long histrory with the Auckland Kindergarten Association, with my own tamariki third generation attendees, and I have the aspiration both as whānau and kaiako to retain the unique community nature of kindergartens in Aotearoa. I am the Head Teacher at New Lynn Kindergarten and have been part of negotiations with the Ministry of Education, one of the driving forces behind the Kindergarten Reference Group, and the representative for Auckland in the Early Childhood National Caucus for the last two years. I believe it is essential we have teacher representation on the board, so that we have balanced innovators creating responsive decisions and direction in the future for the Auckland Kindergarten Association. As a board member, I am working in a different capacity for the Association with a passionate bunch of people to ensure the sustainability of the Association for the next 100 years to come.
NICK DAVIES, BOARD MEMBER
When my first daughter left Mangere Bridge Kindergarten, I was so moved by the teachers’ contribution in shaping her into a strong, courageous, and confident individual I wrote an open letter acknowledging them.
With the support of my wife Rachel, a qualified New Entrant Teacher, I am passionate about working with the AKA in ensuring that every child can have the kind of experience my daughter Tegan (6) had and son Cerys (3) are currently enjoying.
I am a Principal Systems Architect at ASB responsible for designing ASB’s enterprise operating model and supporting systems. Prior to this, I was a Management Consultant with IBM where, over an 8-year period, I completed over 40 engagements with public and private enterprises throughout New Zealand and Australia.
I have a strong academic record that includes a BSc, Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration, and MBA from Auckland University.
The combination of this academic foundation and practical experience enables me to help organisations transform, stay relevant, and achieve their aspirations. I am excited about applying my skills and passion to ensuring the sustainability of the Auckland Kindergarten Association, and the Kindergarten Difference, for generations of tamariki to come.