Pūnga mātauranga

Early childhood and support staff scholarships: previous recipients

24 Hōngo 2023

Previous scholarship recipients have created a wide variety of valuable work, and in many cases the work has contributed to their postgraduate studies. You can view a summary of their application, and final reports below.

2022 recipients

Barry Mclernon is a support staff member at Hawera High School – Endeavour Disability Centre. His successful proposal was titled, ‘Becoming a History Teacher with an Indigenising/De-colonisation Focus’. His project involves completing a Graduate Teaching Diploma in Secondary Level Education with a focus on History, Social Studies and Health Education. He has a passion for environmental and indigenous rights. He aims to use his tertiary education in History and Politics as well as his personal experience and contacts in te ao Māori and social justice activism to provide professional, engaging, inclusive and exciting teaching content that unpacks the effects of colonisation with an international and local history focus.

Josephine Westley 
is a teacher aide at Richmond Primary School. Her project is titled, ‘Strengthening and normalising the use of Te Reo Māori throughout the classroom, in the school community and education sector’. To do this, she will take part in the Te Ahu o Te Reo Māori course. This course focuses on five areas, including local dialect, practice of Te Reo Māori, foundations of grammar and writing conventions, development of Te Reo Māori language in curriculum delivery and strategies to promote Māori language in classrooms and school communities. She will use the knowledge and skills gained through the programme to enhance her relationships with students, colleagues and whānau.

Kim Thomson
 is an early childhood education teacher at Tōtara Park Kindergarten. Her successful proposal is titled, ‘Sharing the magic of Yoga: Empowering tamariki to care for their wellbeing through yoga and connecting with whānau for the learning to flourish’. She plans to implement intentional strategies through yoga that help tamariki gain the skills they need to help establish the foundations for lifelong social and emotional wellbeing. This project builds on a recent Teaching Led Innovation Fund project which focused on nurturing social and emotional competencies through mindfulness practices. She hopes that the flow on effect of sharing the knowledge can continue to grow and flourish supporting strong, resilient, empowered members of society who can navigate life’s challenges.

Rachel Foster 
is an early childhood education teacher at University Kids, Victoria University of Wellington. Her successful project is titled, ‘Exploring the sector specific needs and expectations of recently appointed leaders in ECE in NZ from a lived experience perspective’. Her qualitative research uses a pragmatic conceptual framework aligned with an exploratory methodological approach and involves exploring the preparation, support, and current learning needs of recently appointed leaders in New Zealand Early Childhood Education contexts. She has completed her field work and is currently working of writing up findings of the study. She hopes that her research will contribute to understanding the professional learning needs of recently appointed ECE leaders.

Rangi Williams 
is a teacher aide at Kelston Boys’ High School. His project is titled, ‘Improving Māori Academic Achievement by improving Māori Attendance’. This project aims to use attendance as the vehicle for change. It will track a group of Māori students, their whānau and their interactions with the school and how attendance effects their academic achievement. This research will gather evidence of patterns, mindset and barriers to academic achievement and create an engagement framework to engage with tauira and whānau to increase Māori academic achievement. Ongoing tracking of attendance, hui with tauia and whānau as well as teaching staff will implement positive engagement methods based on Professor Mason Durie’s  Te Whare Tapa Whā health model will be used.

Ruby Gray is a teacher aide at Berhampore School. Her successful project is titled, ‘Strong Minds, Strong Hearts – Achieving a Graduate Diploma in Education and Psychology’. She will begin researching the question, “How do we create optimum wellbeing outcomes for neurodiverse children in Aotearoa?” She will take a holistic approach to study how we as educators and parents can best support the development of cognitive, social, emotional, and self-management skills in our neurodiverse tamariki. During the scholarship year she aims to write an article that identifies and discusses practical solutions and further steps that can be taken in the sector towards best supporting some of our most vulnerable students.

Siobhán McKenna-Murphy
 is a support staff member at National Park School, Ruapehu. Her project is titled, ‘Whaowhia Te Kete Mātauranga – Fill the Basket of Knowledge’. Her project has dual meanings, as she plans to not only continue to fill her professional kete by developing her knowledge and understanding of how to be an effective and culturally responsive kaiako in Aotearoa by completing her degree studies at the University of Waikato, but she plans to literally fill her kete with rich and meaningful resources she can carry with her into her teaching practice to enhance the learning of ngā tamariki.

Sue Kemp
 is a support staff member and Executive Officer at St Catherine’s College, Wellington. Her project is to complete three papers from Otago University’s online MBA Course. One of the papers she will be completing is ‘Leading Sustainable Enterprise’. This paper will assist in learning how to make the school sector more sustainable. Students are extremely concerned about this issue. The paper teaches the key concepts, the legal, institutional, national and global contexts of sustainability. Students, teachers and support staff will all benefit from greater understanding in this area and how to take action for a more sustainable future


Silei Hala is a support staff member at Te Papapa School. Her successful proposal was titled ‘Koe toe fakamalohi ange 'ar fengaue 'aki fkako moe ngaahi famili 'ulaki ta'u 'ae hiu 'ae tamasii pe taahine kihe'ako (Strengthening Learning Partnerships with Tongan Families in the first year of School)’. The aim of her project is to strengthen learning partnerships with the Tongan community and, in doing so, impact positively on the literacy agreement of Tongan students during their first year of school. She will concentrate initially on family engagement at transition to school but will also continue until the children turn six years of age.

Brittany French 
is a support staff member at Te Kura a Rito o Newtown. Her successful proposal was titled ‘Creativity at School’. She will use the scholarship to pay for part of the course fees for the Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Therapy at Whitecliffe College of Art and Design. The focus of the course is to enable graduates to use their creativity to help others and will equip her with the skills to empower tamariki, especially those who struggle with managing emotions.

Christine Toerien
 is a support staff member at Torbay Primary School. Her successful proposal was titled ‘Bringing back the Arts’. She will complete a ‘Research and Inquiry in Action’ paper through the University of Canterbury and has identified the arts as an area that needs investigating. Her aim is to bring the arts back more prominently into schools and highlight the benefits that children can receive from engaging in them. Christine has worked with children with a range of needs and is keen to help diverse learners succeed.

Hermann Arp 
is a support staff member at Mangere College. His successful proposal was titled ‘Pasifika Teacher Aide Project for Secondary School (PTAPSS)’. He will use the scholarship to write a handbook using as a benchmark the Pasifika Teacher Aide project for Primary and Intermediate Schools written by Rae Si'ilata. He aims to create a nuanced and innovative ‘best practice’ supporting education framework for the actual educational needs of Pasifika high school students particularly post Covid-19 lockdown and in the ever-changing technological world.

Cara Baigent 
is a kindergarten teacher member at Central Kids David Henry Kindergarten Tokoroa. Her successful proposal was titled ‘Child Centred Play Therapy – Postgraduate Certificate’. The course is a specialised way of working therapeutically with tamariki based on theory and an extensively researched model. The presenters have qualifications and years of experience as play therapists and working with children experiencing trouble in their lives. She has already completed stage 1.

Stuart Macann 
is a kindergarten teacher member at Taitoko Kindergarten. His successful proposal was titled ‘Poutuarongo Reo Māori’. Research within his kindergarten whānau identified support for including more te reo and tikanga Māori in the curriculum. Discussion at an early formal level are taking place about launching the kindergarten as a bilingual/bicultural ECE service. He will use the scholarship to continue his journey in an immersion te reo Māori environment at Te Wānanga o Raukawa in a part time capacity. He aims to complete two further papers in the degree programme. The learning will equip him to continue delivering a curriculum that is culturally responsive to Māori.

Rachel Taylor 
is a kindergarten teacher at Pioneers Nursery. Her successful proposal was titled ‘Successfully completing and achieving a Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership (ECE)’. She has enrolled in the diploma course to further her leadership skills and to inspire current colleagues. She wants to take up a leadership role in future where she can make a difference and continue to be a learner herself. Choosing to study with Te Rito Maioha will strengthen her leadership by adding a bicultural focus which will support a sustained and shared understanding of what it is to be a culturally responsive practitioner; developing her knowledge about Māori leadership will also assist her to articulate the learning needs of tamariki.

Louana McCormack 
is a support staff member at Opaheke School. Her successful proposal was titled ‘Knowledge and empowerment’. She will be continuing the Bachelor of Library and Information Studies having already completed a certificate in library studies. The papers she will work towards include ‘Cultural competencies in the information environment’ and ‘Te ao Māori in the information environment’. Being able to support Māori and Pasifika students by using culturally responsive practices learned from her studies will foster acceptance and will encourage and build relationships between tamariki, herself and the wider local community of Opaheke.

Cathy Dykes
 is a kindergarten teacher member at Papamoa Coast Kindergarten. Her successful proposal was titled ‘Promoting the importance of becoming a fully qualified, bilingual teacher in early childhood education’. She is already in her second year of study and will complete her degree at the end of 2021. The learning she has completed so far has reinforced her understanding of the importance of learning about New Zealand's cultural identity and her aim is to learn to speak te reo Māori more fluently to make a difference in her teaching practice. She will share with support staff sector the knowledge gained promoting the importance of having a bicultural qualification.

Michelle Warner 
is a support staff member at Fraser High School. Her successful proposal was titled ‘Management of Chemical Hazards’. As a science technician a key part if her job is the preparation, handling, storage, and disposal of chemicals. While she has studied chemistry at a tertiary level her intention is to learn more about hazards, legal requirements and dealing with lapses in containment of hazardous chemicals. To achieve this, she is enrolling in an Otago University paper ‘Management of Chemical Hazards’. This will strengthen her ability to contribute to the sector by increasing her competency and accountability in her role and through achieving additional skills and training. It will also open access to a career pathway.

2020 recipients

Jared Lambert is head teacher at Berhampore Kindergarten. His project is to gain a Certificate in Arts (Psychology), which will allow him to begin a master's degree in educational and developmental psychology. Jared began working in an early childhood centre when he was 17 years old. At 18, he began his studies and three years later he gained a permanent position as a full time qualified teacher. During his nine years in early childhood education, he has been involved in research projects resulting in articles and a book being published.  

Nelly Kendall-Carpenter is a teacher at Carterton Kindergarten. Her project is ‘An investigation into how waste materials can be resources for ECE centres’. She will revisit the REMIDA centre in Reggio, Italy to further investigate how it is run and stocked and the involvement of the community and the municipality of Reggio. What she learns will help her propose a similar centre in the Wairarapa where all people in the community, adults and children, can see new possibilities and life in discarded materials, instilling in the future generation a reason for caring for the environment.  

Robyn Mockett is a teacher at Paparangi Kindergarten. Her project is ‘How can UNESCO's Education Sustainability development goals be interpreted in an Early Childhood Education setting to support child development for social and emotional competency through curricula development’. At the time of applying, Robyn was completing a Masters of Education. Her scholarship topic is the area she intends to investigate for her thesis. The scholarship  will allow her to carry out the research phase - engaging with centres and working with teaching staff to understand the sustainability goals and promote them as self-reflection skills, values and attitudes for learners.  

Hui Zhou is a teacher at Merrilands Kindergarten. Her project is ‘How do early childhood teachers perceive their role in building emotion regulation skills in young children and what strategies do they use?’ She gained her Bachelor of Teaching and Learning (Early Childhood) in 2019, has a Post Graduate Diploma in Education with Distinction in Early Years and is currently studying for her Master of Education. In her qualitative study, she will collect and analyse teachers' perspectives on promoting emotional regulation in young children and the teaching strategies used. 

Fiona Sorensen is a teacher aide at Fitzroy Primary School. Her project is called ‘Te Kete Aronui (aspire, inquire, inspire)’ and reflects her desire to become a qualified primary school teacher. She will enrol for the three year online distance learning Bachelor of Teaching at Waikato University. Her aspiration to gain a formal teaching qualification was fostered by observing the primary sector as a vibrant and ever changing profession working with a diverse range of society. While studying, she will continue as a teacher aide, sharing her journey with support staff colleagues in her school and encouraging them in their profession.  

Erica Lasham is a support staff member at Waimauku School. Her project is ‘Improving and providing better learning for the Blind/Visually impaired and other learners with related special needs’. Erica will be extending her Feuerstein training to gain certification in ‘Tactile Instruments of Enrichment for the blind/visually impaired’. The programme includes a learning intervention that uses touch and movement to enable blind/visually impaired students, and others with learning needs, to explore the world around them in a clear and orderly manner. The skills gained will assist her to mediate students' learning and help learners develop their thinking skills, gain confidence and recognise their potential. 

Cheryl Baldwin is a teacher aide at Tauranga Intermediate School. Her project is ‘Supporting Neurodiverse Literacy Learners’. Cheryl has worked as a literacy support tutor for nine years. She works with small groups to help support decoding and comprehension strategies in an environment where rich discussion is encouraged. She will extend her school's existing screening programme by exploring the benefit of screening priority learners for symptoms of visual processing discomfort (known as Iren Syndrome). She will share her new learning via staff and Community of Learning workshops and professional discussion with colleagues.  

Donna Le Marquand a library manager at Blockhouse Bay Intermediate School. Her project is ‘Supporting Priority Learners in a Library Environment’. She will focus on developing a deeper understanding of Māori and Pasifika communities to identify perceived barriers to accessing and using school libraries. She will also continue studying towards a Bachelor of Library and Information Studies through the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand. Her aim is to complete three papers; ‘Te Ao Māori in an Information Environment’, ‘Cultural Competencies’ and ‘Library and Information Service Project’. This study will assist in identifying some of the existing barriers to success in the library environment with the aim of making the library an inclusive, supportive environment for all students.  

Anne Stephenson is a librarian at Hutt Valley High School. Her project is a PhD in Education (3rd year): Information Literacy in compulsory education in New Zealand: data collection and analysis. This will be the research component of her PhD. It will include the definition and explanation of what information literacy is; the possible variation in the use of information literacy, related terminology across sectors in New Zealand education, the impact of the changing landscape on education and the policy, systems and practices in place to manage the impact.  

Lucy Charlesworth is a teacher aide at Nelson College for Girls. Her project is ‘Using additive bilingual practices to support emergent bilinguals in secondary education’. Lucy has supported ESOL students, in both mainstream and ESOL classes at Nelson College for Girls since 2014. Her project will focus on recently arrived refugee students with limited English and those with limited education in their home language. In 2018, she began a Master of Teaching English of Other Languages course part-time through Canterbury University to learn more about how these vulnerable learners can be better supported in a secondary school. The course includes practices that encourage students to use their home language in addition to English to enhance their learning.  

Past recipients

Mania Gabel
Penelope Pokoati 
Kathleen (Kat) Hall


Michelle Simms 
Karyn Anne Humphries
Kate McAnelly 
Mary Hardiman 

2016 Early Childhood Education Scholarship recipients

Josephine Turia
Helen McConnell

2016 Support Staff Scholarship recipients

Maryann Hainsworth