Keynote Speakers

Marc Battle

Marc Battle is an ECE Instructor at Red River College Polytech, Canada, specialising in play and inclusion. He is also a noted playground developer, children’s musician, and creator and host of the ECE podcast, This Ain’t Babysittin’.

We are Warriors

“Tomorrow’s battle is won during today’s practice.”- Samurai maxim

In an age where we are inundated with research on how to build better brains and smarter children, we may be forgetting that a child is more than a cognitive system; they are a whole human being and our duty is to help guide them in their journey towards discovering who they are. In this keynote session, we will explore how we can take the ancient principles of the Warrior Code – used by Apache warriors to medieval knights to the Samurai of Japan – and apply them to our work with children. Not to fight, but as a means to truly understand oneself and grow.

Maggie Dent

Commonly known as the ‘queen of common sense’, Maggie Dent has become one of Australia's favourite parenting authors and educators. She has a particular interest in the early years, adolescence and resilience, and is an undisputed 'boy champion'. Maggie is the author of nine major books, including the bestselling Mothering Our Boys and her 2020 release From Boys to Men. She hosts the award-winning ABC podcast, Parental As Anything and in 2021 released a book of the same name. In May 2022, Maggie released her first book about girls, Girlhood: Raising our little girls to be healthy, happy and heard.

Dare to be Exceptional as an Early Years Educator

The most successful educators are a blend of professional knowledge and competence as well as having the ability to engage, connect and communicate that knowledge to students using relational safety. This keynote explores the importance of high-quality early childhood educators in today’s busy, uncertain world. From a strong background in the classroom, counselling and drawing on research, Maggie will positively affirm the incredible impact and influence that early year's educators have on little ones and their parents and caregivers.

Michele A’Court

Multi-award-winning comedian Michele A’Court has been part of New Zealand’s entertainment industry since she first appeared on television in 1987 as a children’s TV presenter. Winner of the NZ Female Comedian of the Decade, Michele has performed in radio, theatre, TV and live everywhere from the Laugh Factory in Las Vegas to the Mangawhai Tavern in Northland.

Ketekete mai!

Michele is a huge fan of raising our voices for change, of speaking up for the voiceless, and making space for the people we don’t usually hear from.

Tufuga Tasi Malu

Tasi Malu is a leader, lawyer, and advocate for children with a powerful message about early childhood education and making a lasting difference for children and adults. Tasi is passionate about Pasifika leadership, questioning everything and staying true to our calling.

Pasifika village leadership

Tasi has combines his early childhood education influences and his Pasifika upbringing from his mother and shaped them into his leadership values which revolve around village values such as:

  • Selfless ambition
  • Leading in humility
  • Leadership which lifts and uplifts
  • Leadership through service rather than pushing and pulling people

Sandi Phoenix

Highly regarded speaker, coach, mentor and professional development facilitator for the education and care sector, Sandi Phoenix is a behavioural specialist and founder of the Phoenix Cups approach to guiding behaviour.

The Phoenix Cups: Realising your potential with full Cups

You can’t pour from an empty cup. How do you fill yours? Realising your potential takes intention, effort, and understanding of how to meet your own needs first. Learn about your own needs profile and make a plan to keep your cups full, increase your wellbeing, and realise your potential.

Hana Tapiata

Hana Tapiata is a writer and blogger living by indigenous philosophies and mātauranga Māori for wellbeing and realising potential.

Being Māori is a superpower

How can you know who you are if you don’t know your whakapapa?

Whakapapa describes our genealogy, our upbringing, the environments we’ve been exposed to and the experiences that culminate in who, where and what we are today. Understanding whakapapa and the viewpoint that everything is interconnecting and interconnected will allow us to tap into and harness the superpowers within us.

Toni & Robin Christie

Toni and Robin Christie founded Childspace Early Learning Centres and subsequently the Childspace Early Childhood Institute in Wellington, New Zealand. They began their careers in early childhood with a small centre in their own home and have both taught early childhood for various ages and contexts.

Currently their work involves teaching adults about the importance of the early years. Toni and Robin have written books and resources, they publish a quarterly magazine, hold annual conferences, design and build environments for children, inspire early childhood practitioners through their keynote and workshop presentations, and they love their jobs!

So what? What next?

We will all have been treated to three days of challenging the status quo, learning from each other, and much laughter and growth throughout the conference. As Lillian Katz would say – so what? In this closing keynote, Toni and Robin will delve into what this all means for our tamariki and our profession and where we are headed next.