Te Kaunihera


The Council is the organisation's governance group. Elected from the membership, they provide strategic direction for ECNZ.


Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand (ECNZ) is an incorporated society of members governed by a Council elected by members at Annual General Meetings (AGM). The Council's role is that of a governance body, overseeing ECNZ's policies and strategic direction. The Council meet five times each year.

Council is responsible for:

  • Consulting with members of ECNZ in a regular and systematic manner
  • Developing the ECNZ’s strategic vision and direction and approving its strategic plan
  • Employing and managing the performance of the Chief Executive.

ECNZ Council is comprised of a National President, and eight members. Two member positions are reserved for Māori and one for Pasifika. There is an elected staff representative on the Council.

Dr Lesley Rameka - National President


I am a Senior Research Fellow at the Faculty of Education, University of Waikato. I have worked in early childhood education for over 35years, beginning my journey in te kohanga reo, and working in a number of professional development and tertiary education providers over the years.

Christine Taare - Kaiwhakahaere


While I have worked in various early childhood settings, tertiary education and governmentI currently work at the Gisborne Kindergarten Association.

Clare Wells - Council Member

I have been involved in ECE since the 1970s as a teacher, advocate, union activist and policy advisor.



 Geoff Summers - Council Member (Co-opted)

I have a Master of Business Administration (with Distinction) and a Master of Business Studies in Human Resource Management (with Distinction) both from Massey University.

Julie Watkins - Council Member

I am currently the Head Teacher in Te Maioha – the infant and toddler centre at Otago University Childcare Association.

Meritiana Lolesio - Council Member Pasifika


I am fortunate to have been elected as the new Pacifika member and hope to bring added value and strength to the council. Appreciating the uniqueness of my culture has been foundational in navigating the educational terrain that many of our Pacific children travel. 

Penny Smith - Staff Representative

I have been involved in the early childhood education sector for thirty years. The first ten years were spent teaching in kindergartens in the Taranaki and Manawatu. The past twenty years have been in the tertiary sector beginning at Massey University where I lectured in the Bachelor of Education (Early Years, birth to eight) degree and in other programmes. 

Peter Jackson - Council Member Māori

My father cherished this organisation above all others and after having met many of the Te Rito Maioha whanau, I completely understand why.

Rhys Barlow - Council Member (Co-opted)

I am a Chartered Accountant by profession and practised in Wellington city for more than 40 years with two different CA firms. I retired as a Partner from BDO Wellington in December 2011 after 32 years in that role.