Wendy Larmer - Chairperson
Wendy is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach which challenges her understanding of the Early Childhood curriculum, Te Whariki. She has visited centres which are inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach and sees how they can be transformed in the environment and professional practice. As teachers are listening to children, strengthening the image of the child as strong and competent, the environment is enriched and meaningful to parents, teachers and children. Wendy has recently retired from employment by the Ministry of Education New Zealand where she was employed as a Senior Adviser Licensing. She strives for quality early childhood education and works as a contractor to support Early Childhood Centres develop. In her personal life Wendy enjoys time with family and her nine grandchildren.
Helen Aitken - Secretary
Helen has been in early childhood education since 1994 in the capacity of teacher, leader, facilitator, and more recently Senior Lecturer. She has returned to live in the Waikato and has also recently returned to working with young children again – and loving it! She is passionate about pedagogical documentation and celebrating and learning te reo Māori and our unique bicultural heritage.
Helen has been interested and inspired by things Reggio since 2001 and in particular how ECE teachers and centres in Aotearoa can be challenged in ways which ‘fit’ with our own (bi)cultural context and curriculum.
Julianne Exton - Treasurer
Julianne leads a diverse team of teachers at Kids' Domain Early Learning Centre in Auckland where she has been manager since 1994. The spirit and inspirations of Reggio Emilia resonate loudly with her and profoundly influence her personal and professional thinking and learning. Julianne’s life is grounded in relationships. She has a deep desire to create spaces and places where children and adults live and learn together; where diversity is celebrated as a strength. Julianne views the voluntary role of treasurer for the REANZ trustee group and regional network groups as her way of contributing to early childhood teaching and advocating for children’s rights in New Zealand.
Chris teaches three and four year olds in the Foundation Class at Diocesan School for Girls. Her background is kindergarten teaching, working with children and families with special needs children, and working for the Ministry of Education as a Senior Advisor and as a Facilitator for Professional Learning. She was first introduced to the pedagogy of Reggio Emilia in 1994 when the Hundred Languages Exhibition and conference was held in Melbourne. After visiting Reggio Emilia in 1998, she began an adventure that continues to inspire and challenge her today. Chris is grateful for the friendship and mentoring that Jan Millikan has given REANZ and herself over the years.
Chris says "Every day at school is a day blessed with possibilities for seeing the work I do with children through new eyes. Eyes that are not alone in listening to children. What are they telling us? What are the possibilities? How can we find new ways to think alongside children? To stand next to them and wonder and question? What a privilege".
Chris spends a lot of time with her two gorgeous grandsons who have enriched her life. "What a delight to be greeted with a running hug and a big smile as I pick the boys up from preschool (one of the best in Auckland may I add!!!). These delicious boys provide us with so many wonderful moments. Lucky, lucky us!"
Lesley teaches in the tertiary education sector after many years in the early education context (kindergarten and care and education settings). Lesley has been provoked by the pedagogy of Reggio Emilia, particularly in light of how young children make their thinking visible through many different ‘languages’. The notion of the environment as the third teacher is also of interest and specially as Malaguzzi claims “the environment is like an aquarium, mirroring and reflecting the values and beliefs of the people who inhabit it”.
Glenys Waller - Primary Schools Respresentative
Glenys is the primary representative on the REANZ trust and teaches the New Entrant class at St Cuthbert's College in Auckland. She has been interested in the Reggio philosophy since participating in a study tour to Reggio Emilia in 2005. The principles of the Reggio philosophy underpins the pedagogy in the Junior School at St Cuthbert's and several staff have participated in study tours to Reggio and Melbourne. Glenys's thinking is continually challenged by the other members of the Trust and participating in all Professional Learning available. Listening to Children and The Image of the Child are two of the principles that have enhanced her teaching.
Lorraine Manuela - International Network Representative
Lorraine and her team at Tots Corner have been inspired by the pedagogy of Reggio Emilia as a provocation interfaced with Te Whaariki for onwards of 13 years. They believe the Reggio Approach has offered a new paradigm for early childhood education, to be places and spaces for political and ethical practices, not places of technical practice and the transmission of knowledge. They continue to be challenged by the Pedagogy of Listening and creating environments that both challenge and inspire children and teachers to share understanding and interpretations.
Lorraine is the Reggio Children International Network Representative for REANZ.
Diti recently retired as Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Auckland. She continues to be involved at the University of Auckland as Honorary Research Fellow and also continues to supervise post-graduate students. For over forty years Diti has been actively involved with a wide range of early childhood services and organisations as parent, teacher and teacher educator. She attended Playcentre with her four children and, over 20 years, was involved at the national level for several years. She is currently national president of OMEP Aotearoa New Zealand and the external monitor for three early childhood degree programmes. Over the past 24 years Diti has facilitated and co-facilitated professional development, conversation groups and conferences, drawing on the intellectually-engaging philosophy and pedagogy of Reggio Emilia. She has attended 5 professional learning opportunities in Reggio Emilia and is a trustee of REANZ (Reggio Emilia Aotearoa New Zealand). Diti is passionate about inspiring teachers to explore and debate the nature of the teaching-learning process and to reflect on the effect that personal pedagogical practice has on their own lives and the lives of the children they teach.
Prue was introduced to the pedagogy of Reggio Emilia in 1990 by a teaching colleague whilst living overseas. She had been an art teacher in Italy and knew of the Reggio Emilia philosophy after a brief visit to the city in the late 80s. Prue was excited listening to her talk about the 100 languages and more, always with such passion.
With further research, Prue became extremely interested in how powerful “the image of the child” is , children being so competent, full of potential and capable of building their own theories by drawing on the many languages to represent their thinking.
Over the past ten years she has had the opportunity to visit Reggio Emilia and witness first hand the culture of collaboration, the amazing provocative environments of their preschool centres, and the beliefs of a people and community who value and respect children as vital, contributing members of society.
Being a trustee member of REANZ has been a privilege and opens the door for robust dialogue and collaboration. It is an opportunity to share knowledge and expertise, and provide wonderful ongoing professional development experiences for teachers, that are evocative and stimulate the mind body and soul.
Bridgette Towle is an early childhood educator, leader and professional learning facilitator with over 20 years’ experience teaching and learning in a wide variety of early years settings. As pedagogical leader at Kids’ Domain Early Learning Centre, Bridgette has helped develop an inquiry-based learning and living approach that is inspired, and continually provoked by, the philosophy and pedagogy of Reggio Emilia. Bridgette has recently completed a Master’s of Education thesis at Auckland University that delves into the active role of materials in relational learning and creative expression. She is particularly intrigued by the philosophies and theories that underpin the Reggio approach, and how they interface with our own unique and continually evolving cultural contexts.
Lis is a primary teacher, currently working in the upper years at Sunnyhills Primary School in Auckland. She engaged with the Reggio Emilia philosophy and pedagogy during her early years of teaching at St Cuthbert’s College in 2005, and continued that learning through the 13 years of teaching Years 1 and 2, then Years 5 and 6. The journey of discovery and being brave to challenge paradigms in her own teaching and learning practice through collaborative, reflective conversations has been a passion. In 2009, Lis joined the Melbourne Tour that included visits to primary schools, as well as hearing Margo Hobba and Chris Celada share their valuable insights. The many conversation evenings and REANZ conferences have fuelled the journey - the inspiration is limitless and the exploration unending. There is still so much to learn and to be enlightened by.